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John Terry makes his mark in last-gasp Chelsea win over battling Watford

The homecoming of champions can rarely have been this thrilling. An absurdly entertaining occasion littered with smartly taken goals, bouts of cringe-worthy defending, some late snarl that left Watford depleted and bickering among themselves and a mischievous Diego Costa leaving the bench to pilfer some citrus fruit ended with Antonio Conte wearing a plastic crown on the pitch. The Italian conducted a delighted audience as the fireworks boomed and the tickertape fluttered down all around. If only every night in this arena was this giddy.

It says much about the belief driving Chelsea on that they prevailed here with a virtual second string, decorated by a few senior regulars to ensure momentum is maintained before the FA Cup final later this month. Some in their number will feel scorched by it all. John Terry may have scored his 67th goal for the club, his first in 485 days, to register for the 17th season in succession but he was understandably ring-rusty and bypassed at times by Watford’s sprightlier performers. He ended up hinting Sunday’s visit of Sunderland could mark his retirement. Kurt Zouma, too, struggled to show his true capabilities in a makeshift back line. Expecting either to hit the ground running was unrealistic.

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