LONDON (AP) — Cesc Fabregas made the most of a rare Chelsea start on Saturday, with a goal and an assist on his 300th Premier League appearance helping the leaders beat Swansea 3-1 to go 11 points clear.
After dislodging Nemanja Matic from the lineup to make only his sixth start in 26 league matches, Fabregas put Chelsea in front in the 19th minute with a deflected shot.
Pedro Rodriguez was the provider and, after Fernando Llorente leveled with a header on the stroke of halftime, Fabregas returned the favor as Chelsea's lead was restored. The 29-year-old midfielder slotted the ball through for Pedro to curl into the net through goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski's hands in the 72nd minute.
It was Fabregas' 102nd assist in a Premier League career that began in 2003 with Arsenal and continued from 2014 with Chelsea after a three-year hiatus at Barcelona. Retired Ryan Giggs is the league's assists' maestro with 162 and now next on the list is Fabregas — level with former Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard, whose career was celebrated with a halftime appearance on the Stamford Bridge pitch Saturday.
The current generation of Chelsea players will surely be parading the Premier League trophy again on the field in May, with Antonio Conte's side running away with the title despite drawing two of its past four games.
More points might have been dropped if defender Cesar Azpilicueta had been penalized for a handball in the second half just before Fabregas provided Pedro's goal. Any prospect of a second equalizer for Swansea ended after Diego Costa volleyed in a third from Eden Hazard's cutback in the 84th minute.
It was miserable return to west London for Swansea manager Paul Clement, who was an assistant coach under Carlo Ancelotti when Chelsea won the title in 2010. The south Wales club is three points above the relegation zone.