Chelsea moved level on points with second-placed Manchester United after two goals in the opening six minutes put them on the way to victory over a spirited Brighton.
Eden Hazard opened the scoring for the visitors with a neat finish from inside the box and midfielder Willian added a second from 18 yards, after a slick move that he started, to leave Chris Hughton’s side facing an uphill task.
The hosts’ response was impressive, they should have had a penalty when Chelsea stand-in goalkeeper Willy Caballero upended defender Ezequiel Schelotto, while Israeli striker Tomer Hemed was brilliantly denied by the former Manchester City shot-stopper.
Netherlands international midfielder Davy Propper headed against the post and Schelotto went close after the break.
Chelsea were always a threat though and Willian saw a free-kick pushed onto the post by Brighton keeper Mat Ryan before Hazard scored his second with a fine solo effort before Victor Moses’ late goal completed the victory.