Eden Hazard at the double after Chelsea punish Brighton’s slack start

first_imgBrighton & Hove Albion Barney Ronay Read more Chelsea’s hunt for a medieval big man adds intrigue to football’s space race Chelsea are a team capable of slicing opponents apart on the counter, and a collective inspired by Hazard’s jaw-dropping talent. The Belgian had already scored by the time he joined the celebratory huddle sparked by Willian’s fine finish. Having gratefully accepted Victor Moses’ cutback, prodded to him tentatively by Dale Stephens on the stretch, Hazard sent the 100th league goal of a career spent in France and England beyond Ryan.“Against a player of his ability, you just hope you have a good day and can stifle them a bit with your system, or individuals can,” Chris Hughton said. “You know he’ll produce moments like he did. You just hope they don’t lead to goals. Unfortunately, today they did.”His 101st league goal would be scored before the end, Hazard scurrying unchecked from inside his own half before cutting across the penalty area and finishing crisply into the far corner. Whenever the visitors were permitted a gallop, they revelled. Ryan alone denied Willian and Batshuayi further reward, the former after another glorious move comprising a dummy from Hazard, a clever touch from Batshuayi, and a return skip and pass from the No 10. There is no living with Chelsea when they find rhythm as upbeat as this.Brighton have lost all seven games against the top six this season, scoring once, though this was no meek surrender. Until wilting at the last, the hosts had carried a threat, usually from Pascal Gross’s delivery, but were undermined by profligacy and, as Hughton suggested, refereeing oversights.Tomer Hemed’s inability to bury a close-range header from a Gross cross felt wasteful, providing another reminder of why Jürgen Locadia, a club record £14m signing from PSV Eindhoven who was paraded on the turf before kick-off, could be key once recovered from a hamstring injury.Willy Caballero was unconvincing, particularly at set plays, as he deputised in the Chelsea goal for the injured Thibaut Courtois, who should return from an ankle injury on Wednesday at Arsenal. Davy Pröpper would loop a header on to the top of a post early in the second half, which summed up Brighton’s luck. Share via Email Share on Pinterest This was not necessarily the breeze for the champions suggested by the scoreline yet, in the end, Chelsea’s first league win of the year felt restorative and will be remembered most for the exquisitely incisive rat-a-tat of passes which earned them breathing space.There was something hypnotic about that early exchange between Willian, Michy Batshuayi and the irrepressible Eden Hazard, a flurry of accurate touches fizzed first time at breakneck speed while six Brighton players, all in the vicinity, were left feeling dizzy.None came close to an interception, each Chelsea touch dropping them further off the pace, before Batshuayi eventually flicked Willian free to rip a finish gloriously beyond the diving Mathew Ryan from just inside the area. This attack has been toothless over recent weeks, their centre-forwards enduring mid-season crises of confidence and the approach play too often running aground. Those deficiencies had prompted the emergency calls querying the availability of Andy Carroll and Peter Crouch, plus Christian Benteke and Edin Dzeko. But this was also a timely reminder of the current crop’s devastating best. Reuse this content Topics Share on Facebook Pinterest The Observercenter_img Share on WhatsApp Facebook Chelsea Under the lights in the rain at the Amex. Photograph: Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn match reports Share on Messenger Premier League Their real frustration lay at Jon Moss’s refusal to award a penalty after the excellent Ezequiel Schelotto had tumbled over Caballero’s outstretched left leg. The goalkeeper later said “it didn’t feel as if I touched him” but, even if the referee’s view of the incident had been blocked, his assistant was perfectly placed to see the contact which brought the Italy international down.“He was 20 yards away from it,” Hughton said. “It was an incident waiting to happen and there was always going to be a decision to make, so I’m hugely disappointed.” Schelotto would be booked for dissent before the break after tangling with Tiémoué Bakayoko in the box, with Moss again waving away the penalty appeals.Schelotto’s exasperat ion rather summed up Brighton’s mood, with their industry unrewarded throughout, even after Andreas Christensen had retired with “a contusion” according to Antonio Conte, after a clash of heads. Chelsea were quick to insist the Dane had shown no signs of concussion.They would rouse themselves again courtesy of Hazard’s second before, minutes from time, the substitute Charly Musonda produced a fine pass from deep that Moses collected and converted after easing away from Markus Suttner.After weeks of frustration which masked the reality they are unbeaten in 12 matches in all competitions, Chelsea could bask in the infliction of a thrashing Twitter last_img