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Hazard hits hat-trick to trounce Toon


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Newcastle were thumped as Chelsea returned to the summit of the Premier League thanks to Eden Hazard’s maiden hat-trick for the club.

The Belgian superbly fired home on the half-hour from Branislav Ivanovic’s cut-back, before doubling the lead after a magnificent counter-attack that will surely rank amongst the best goals scored in the Premier League this season just seven minutes later.

And the former Lille star completed his treble from the penalty spot to earn the Blues a thoroughly deserved win that makes up for their abject showing in the reverse fixture back in November.

The three points gathered here will rank amongst the most significant of the season from a Chelsea perspective based on their performance alone - but the fact the win has propelled them back to the top of the table adds a further layer of gloss to a day that most certainly belongs to José Mourinho.

The Chelsea boss oversaw a magnificent result against Manchester City at the Etihad on Monday evening, and with the same opposition again dropping points in a stalemate against Norwich at Carrow Road, the Blues now lead the way in the title race with thirteen games remaining.

Further adding to a day of delight is the fact that Liverpool demolished another of the Blues’ title rivals in Arsenal – the Reds were 5-1 winners at Anfield, with ex-Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge amongst the goalscorers.

A man who might have joined Sturridge in plying his trade on Merseyside is Mohamed Salah, but with Chelsea beating Liverpool to the Egyptian’s signature, the former Basel midfielder was able to impress on his Blues debut in front of a vociferous Stamford Bridge crowd.

Though the magnitude of the win cannot quite match Monday’s monumental effort, this was once again an industrious performance full of defensive endeavour and offensive threat, with Hazard – obviously – the pick of the host’s star-studded attack.

A ninth clean sheet in eleven matches also represents a return to the defensive resilience of the Mourinho days of old, whilst a magnificent return of 26 points from the last ten league fixtures demonstrates that the “little horse” in the race for the league crown is most definitely capable of a strong run for the finish.

After an all-guns-blazing approach at the Etihad which most definitely took Manuel Pellegrini by surprise in Monday night’s win, it perhaps came as little surprise that Chelsea were a little slower out of the blocks this afternoon.

With John Terry an absentee due to a minor niggle suffered in training, Chelsea looked a little defensively susceptible early on, with Hatem Ben Arfa forcing a regulation save out of Petr Cech as the visitors showed plenty of early attacking intent.

Quite the opposite to West Ham’s nineteenth-century tactics a little over a week ago, Alan Pardew’s side were keen to cast aside memories of last weekend’s thumping at the hands of local rivals Sunderland, and their commendable attacking intent certainly made for an entertaining match.

Indeed, though he was rarely seriously troubled, Newcastle actually forced more saves out of Petr Cech than City did on Monday night, which is testament to their positive approach.

Both sides traded light blows in the opening exchanges, with Hazard matching Ben Arfa’s effort with a low drive of his own that flashed wide. Oscar followed suit moments later but was equally wayward with his shot from the edge of the box.

An early goal – for either side - was very much on the cards and it was through the vision and artistry of Hazard that the breakthrough was achieved. Having passed out wide to the marauding Ivanovic following a clever pirouette, the Belgian international Hazard swept the return pass first-time beyond the reach of Krul and into the far corner.

To their credit, Newcastle rallied and almost equalised within minutes. Instead, Cech raced out to deny Moussa Sissoko with a fine one-on-one save, and just moments later following another Toon attack, the score was 2-0 as Hazard completed one of the goals of the season.

Breaking from the back, David Luiz spread the ball out wide to his compatriot Willian, who in turn interchanged with Hazard. Racing forward, the Belgian played a clever one-two with Samuel Eto’o, whose outrageous back-heel neatly fell into Hazard’s path. The finish was unerring and the Blues had a seemingly unassailable two-goal lead.

Hazard might have completed his treble as the first period came to a close, but he was unusually wayward as he crashed an effort over when well-placed. He was not to be denied, however, as he and his team-mates came out with renewed vigour after the break.

The Blues nearly added a freak third when a long ball pumped forward by Luiz took a dodgy bounce over Newcastle keeper Tim Krul, but Oscar was unable to pounce on the Dutchman’s lapse in concentration.

The predatory Eto’o was denied by a combination of Krul and Newcastle sub Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa before skipper for the day Frank Lampard extended the goalkeeper with a cheeky shot from a wide free-kick. There would not be much longer to wait before Newcastle succumbed to the relentless Chelsea pressure.

In fact it was from the corner resulting from Lampard’s free-kick that Hazard was able to complete his treble. Lampard himself took the corner; it was a woefully under-hit delivery, something seemingly endemic amongst the Blues’ midfielders at present. It was of little consequence, however, as referee Howard Webb pointed to the spot for a blatant, needless tug by Yanga-Mbiwa on Eto’o at the far post.

Lampard magnanimously gave up the chance for his 50th Chelsea penalty goal to enable Hazard to fire home with borderline arrogance – and there was only further joy to be had as Salah came on and very nearly netted a debut goal; only to be foiled by a fine close-range save as the Blues played out a comprehensive performance.

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In the last few months I have seen Hazard´s position on the pitch slightly changed by Jose. All I see is this short but stocky guy running on the left, on the right, in the middle, passing amazingly well & to my pleasant surprise scoring goals.

I believe, Jose should take a tremendous credit for it. As I suspected even last year, Hazard was not used properly. Finally, Jose came & utilizes his strength properly. At 23 year old this kid has the world at his feet, I feel

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awesome ! there should be better way for these articles to show up at top so that I dont need to go digging to find your articles.

Maybe make it sticky for atleast a day in the front page :D

Thank you! It's currently the main article on the home page! :D

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