It was the Eden Hazard show once again on Sunday afternoon as he scored and assisted a goal in Chelsea’s 2-1 win away at Brighton.
Pedro and Hazard’s first-half goals proved to be enough to see off the South coast side even though Solly March pulled one back for the home side in the second period.
Maurizio Sarri chose to go with the same starting XI that beat Manchester City 2-0 last week which meant 10 changes from the side that beat Vidi in the Europa League, Olivier Giroud found himself on the bench despite netting the late equaliser.
Both sides started the game keen to get forward at every opportunity but a few blocked shots were all the sides could muster until Pedro broke the deadlock after 17 minutes. Hazard saw his original effort from 25 yards thwarted before racing onto the rebound and picking out the Spaniard’s run at the back post, leaving him with the simple task of poking it into the empty net.
March was the man causing the Chelsea defence problems but his long-range effort was comfortable for Kepa. Within two minutes of that save, the Blues doubled their lead. Willian robbed the hosts of the ball inside his own half before laying a perfectly-weighted pass through to Hazard who outpaced Lewis Dunk before sliding the ball past Mathew Ryan.
There was still time for another very good chance for the Blues before half time but Antonio Rudiger couldn’t direct his bullet header on target and it ended up just wide of the post.
Despite already being two goals to the good, there was a huge chance for Hazard to get his second of the game but he couldn’t sort his feet out in time to connect with Cesar Azpilicueta’s driven cross before Martin Montoya denied Willian a simple tap-in at the far post.
Marcos Alonso then came within an inch of a fantastic third but his left-footed strike was denied by the woodwork after leaving Ryan beaten. Just a few minutes later, the Seagulls were back in the contest through March. A deep cross was headed into his path by Bernardo and the 24-year-old hooked the ball into the net to keep the game alive.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek, once again off the bench, almost created a third for Chelsea but after leaving two Brighton defenders on the floor, his low cross was cleared by Montoya. Alonso then could have very easily red after pulling March down as he looked to be clean through on goal but the referee only produced a yellow. The resulting free-kick went well over the crossbar and the Blues held on for another vital three points.
The match was far from routine in the closing stages for Chelsea and with the chances created in the first half, it could and should have been game over but consecutive league wins set Sarri and his men up nicely heading into such a busy period.
They face Bournemouth in the Carabao Cup quarter-final on Wednesday before facing Leicester at home next weekend.