All good things must come to an end and after five successive Premier League wins the Clarets found the visit of the out-going champions one step too far as Chelsea put the brakes on Burnley’s race for Europe.
Antonio Conte’s side have surrendered their title to Manchester City but still looked the real deal as they held off a Burnley fightback to record only their eighth win of 2018 thanks to Victor Moses’ winner with just over 20 minutes to go.
Moses also had a hand in the opening goal – an own-goal from Clarets defender Kevin Long – and after Burnley had managed to get themselves level through Ashley Barnes' deflected effort he decided the outcome with a quick-fire counter to kill the Clarets off.
It meant just a second defeat in 10 games for Sean Dyche’s side but with Leicester managing nothing better than a 0-0 draw against Southampton, Burnley’s advantage over the eighth-placed Foxes was only trimmed to eight points with four games to go.
Chelsea made six changes to their starting line-up as Conte juggled his considerable resources ahead of the Londoners’ FA Cup semi-final against Southampton on Sunday.
Victory over the Saints would open up a seventh-place finish in the league for a guaranteed Europa League slot.
But while that may aid the Clarets’ cause, there was no helping hand on view as Chelsea went for the win that would keep alive their faint hopes of catching Tottenham in the race for a Champions League slot.
Conte’s selection saw him pair Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud together for the first time in attack and the pair caused Burnley plenty of problems in a first half in which the deposed champions showed their undoubted quality.
The pair linked up to dangerous effect and there were only 10 minutes gone when Giroud flicked the ball on for Morata to run through and force birthday-boy Nick Pope into his first save of the night, a vital touch low down to his right to keep out the striker’s angled drive.
Pope turned 26 on the day of the game but Chelsea did their best to put the celebrations on hold as they went 1-0 up with the Clarets’ keeper unable to stop team-mate Kevin Long unwittingly getting his name on the scoresheet.
It was a soft goal from the Clarets’ perspective as Moses was able to run in behind the back four and lift over a cross which Pope was only able to finger-tip onto the body of the back-pedalling Long, whose touch took the ball over the line.
The Clarets, driven on by former Chelsea man Jack Cork, did their best to break the visitors’ rhythm and get into the contest, Barnes going closest to an equaliser as he almost reached Matt Lowton’s low cross into the box.
But Chelsea were potent on the break and when Giroud slipped in Morata again, it took another fine stop from the advancing Pope to deny the Spain international for a second time and keep the Clarets just one adrift at the break.
With the crowd right behind them and widemen Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Aaron Lennon seeing more of the ball, Burnley upped the tempo at the start of the second half and pinned the Blues back for a spell.
But 10 minutes into the half Chelsea sprung the trap and should have doubled their lead through Morata.
From defending a corner the Blues turned defence into attack, but after being released by the impressive N’Golo Kante, Morata steered his attempted finish the wrong side of the post as Pope spread himself to make life as difficult as possible.
And the Clarets punished that miss with an equaliser nine minutes later.
The goal contained more than a slice of good fortune but was a reward for endeavour and the efforts in particular of Gudmundsson.
The Icelander had taken the fight to the visitors and when he drove forward again and let fly with a skidding long-range effort, the ball flicked off Barnes and wrong-footed Thibaut Courtois to find the bottom corner of the net and give the striker a ninth goal of the season.
Crucially, though, the Clarets, seeking a first double over Chelsea since the 1968/69 season following their opening-day win at Stamford Bridge, were level for only five minutes as Chelsea quickly struck back to regain the lead and settle the contest.
And again the penetration came from Moses as he arrived late into the penalty area to meet a cross from Pedro which had by-passed the men into the middle to fall at the feet of the wing-back, who drilled a shot inside an unsighted Pope’s left-hand post.
Chelsea were then able to bring on Eden Hazard to help them see the game out as the Belgium gave a 20-minute master-class.
And while Clarets’ substitute Sam Vokes threatened to repeat the goal he scored at Watford with his first touch – heading a corner into the hands of Courtois – the visitors had sufficient class to bring Burnley’s magnificent run to an end and leave them some work to do to get their European dream over the line.
Burnley: Pope, Lowton, Long, Tarkowski, Ward, Lennon (Wells 87), Westwood, Cork, Gudmundsson, Wood (Vokes 72), Barnes. Substitutes: Heaton, Taylor, Marney, Hendrick, Bardsley.
Chelsea: Courtois, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Rudiger, Moses, Bakayoko, Kante, Emerson (Zappacosta 84), Pedro, Morata (Hazard 71), Giroud. Substitutes: Caballero, Fabregas, Barkley, Willian, Christensen.
Referee: Bobby Madley