Hazard strikes twice as Chelsea sink Brighton

Eden Hazard was at the double to fire reigning Premier League champions Chelsea to victory over Brighton & Hove Albion at the Amex this afternoon.

Saturday, 20th January 2018, 3:20 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 5:33 am
Ezequiel Schelotto had two penalty appeals waved away in the first half against Chelsea this afternoon. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)
Ezequiel Schelotto had two penalty appeals waved away in the first half against Chelsea this afternoon. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)

Hazard got a goal in each half - with Brazilian Willian and wing-back Victor Moses also netting - as Antonio Conte's side eased to a 4-0 triumph over Albion.

Brighton were left to curse a sloppy opening - conceding twice inside the opening six minutes - before Hazard and Moses added extra gloss with strikes in the final 14 minutes.

Chris Hughton's team had two separate penalty appeals waved away in the first half, while Tomer Homed, Shane Duffy and Davy Propper all had chances to get Albion back in it at 2-0.

However, late efforts from Hazard and Moses fired a clinical Chelsea to victory, to leave Brighton with just one league win in their last 13 matches.

Brighton boss Hughton made five changes from the team that were beaten at West Bromwich Albion last time out. Connor Goldson - handed just his second Premier League start - Ezequiel Schelotto, Markus Suttner, Solly March and Tomer Hemed came in for captain Bruno, Gaetan Bong, Anthony Knockaert, Jose Izequierdo and Glenn Murray as Albion set up with a changed 5-3-2 formation.

Reigning Premier League champions Chelsea made four changes to the team that were held at home by Leicester in their last league outing.

Chelsea - without a win in 90 minutes in any of their previous five games coming into it - were quick out of the traps and ahead inside three minutes.

Wing-back Victor Moses worked some crossing room, cutting back for Eden Hazard who took a touch before firing past Mat Ryan in Brighton's goal.

The champions looked in ominous form early on, adding a second just three minutes later. Chelsea's front three of Willian, Hazard and Michy Batshuayi were all involved in a free-flowing move. Batshuayi's clever flick found Brazilian Willian and he rifled home a second for his side.

Albion had spent very little time in Chelsea's half but did have strong appeals for a penalty after 16 minutes. Stand-in goalkeeper Willy Caballero flapped at a cross, with Brighton wing-back Schelotto beating him to the rebound and going down under a challenge from the stopper, though, referee Jon Moss waved away protests for a spot-kick.

Antonio Conte's team were carrying a scoring threat with every attack and Batshuayi could have added a third just shy of the half-hour. Brighton's Schelotto gifted the ball to Tiemoue Bakayoko, he then found Hazard who picked out Batshuayi. The frontman cut inside but was denied by a decent stop from Ryan.

Brighton had a couple of great openings in the space of two minutes to get a goal back. First, frontman Tomer Hemed's header from a Pascal Gross cross was stopped by a superb one-handed save from Cabalerro on 32 minutes. Centre-half Shane Duffy - again with a header - should have done better as he glanced just wide following a corner less than a minute later.

Referee Moss once again waved away Albion appeals for a penalty after a coming together with Bakayoko in the area, before booking Schelotto for his protests afterwards.

Brighton thought they'd found a way back in five minutes after the restart - only for Davy Propper's smart flicked header to come crashing back out off a post. Gross' cross was met by the Dutch midfielder but, with Caballero beaten, the woodwork came to Chelsea's rescue.

Ryan was called into action for the first time following the interval on 56 minutes, keeping Brighton in it with a fine full stretch save. Willian's 25-yard curling free-kick looked destined for the corner but the Australian goalkeeper expertly tipped onto a post.

Brighton were having the better chances of the second half, this time Schelotto missed a good opportunity 25 minutes from time. Marcos Alonso was beaten to the ball by the determined Italian, whose poked effort was straight at the onrushing Caballero.

For all of Albion's effort in the second period, Hazard put the match past them after 76 minutes. The Belgian ace went unchallenged from the halfway line all the way to just inside Brighton's 18-yard box and slotted home with ease.

There was still time for a fourth and wing-back Moses was the man to get it two minutes from time. Substitute Charly Musonda's pinpoint pass picked out Moses, who took the ball in his path and slid past Ryan to secure all three points for Chelsea.

ALBION: Ryan; Schelotto, Goldson, Duffy, Dunk, Suttner; Gross, Propper, Stephens; March, Hemed. Subs: Krul, Huenemeier, Kayal, Murray (Hemed, 68), Baldock (Gross, 68), Izequierdo (March, 83).

CHELSEA: Caballero; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Bakayoko, Kante, Alonso; Hazard, Willian; Batshuayi. Subs: Eduardo, Barkley, Musonda (Willian, 81), Zappacosta (Alonso, 73), Luiz (Christensen, 60), Ampadu, Sterling.