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Hazard penalty ensures a happy Halloween for Blues


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Eden Hazard netted the winner from the penalty spot as Chelsea defeated Queens Park Rangers in a tight London derby.

The Belgian coolly beat Rob Green from twelve yards to maintain the Blues' four-point advantage over second-placed Southampton.

Oscar had given Chelsea a first-half lead with a simply stunning finish from the edge of the area, only for Charlie Austin to cleverly divert a mishit shot beyond the despairing dive of Thibaut Courtois.

Jose Mourinho earlier this week said that it would be harder for Chelsea to win the Premier League because of the amount of derby matches they have to play in comparison to their northern title rivals, and this stoic performance from Rangers will only end weight to that hypothesis.

Rangers proved stubborn opposition, yet Austin's leveller just after the hour - which was totally against the run of play - evoked fears amongst the Chelsea faithful of a repeat of the infamous November Curse.

The result means Chelsea, temporarily at least, open up a nine-point lead over Manchester City - who host cross-city rivals United at Etihad Stadium in a crunch derby match of their own tomorrow lunchtime.

This was another frustrating performance from José Mourinho's men, however. Whilst the Blues worked the ball well in the middle third, the Blues were somewhat lethargic approaching Green's goal, and the returning Diego Costa had very little service in and around the box.

It was perhaps a disappointing performance from Nemanja Matic that undermined the Blues' attempts to win with trademark swagger, as the Serbian destroyer - usually so reliable in his role as midfield string-puller - was loose in possession of the ball.

Yet whilst Chelsea lacked their usual panache and verve, though what good they did produce came through the usual suspects. Oscar, Cesc Fabregas and Hazard all excelled.

It was Fabregas who had the game's first real effort of note as his strike from the edge of the area produced a two-handed parry from Green, but the Spaniard was still able to serve up his regular contribution as he set up Oscar's magnificent opener.

There are several inevitabilities in life: death, taxes, and Cesc Fabregas assists.

In what is the tenth goal (in as many matches contributed) to the Chelsea cause by the former Barcelona midfielder, the Spanish magician weaved his way through two QPR challenges before feeding Oscar. The Brazilian's finish matched, if not bettered, the approach play.

w48jFfE.jpgTaking the shot first-time on the outside of his boot, the Brazilian somehow arced the ball around Green and into the top corner, kissing the woodwork as it disturbed the roof of the net. That was Oscar's fourth of an increasingly-productive season, and arguably the best of a very good bunch.

Chelsea were in relative control from that point onwards, but when Filipe Luis wasted a presentable chance to increase the lead, there seemed the likelihood of the Blues' recent inability to kill teams off (well, except Maribor anyway...) again proving their Achilles heel here.

And that fear became a reality as Austin - a boyhood Chelsea fan - back-heeled in the equaliser from Leroy Fer's mishit effort from all of four yards.

Chelsea rallied resolutely. Oscar was the first to be denied by Rob Green's heroics as his goalbound free-kick from pawed wide by the former England goalkeeper, before the former Norwich man made an equally impressive stop to save John Terry's front post header.

There was nothing he could do, however, as Hazard slotted home a 75th-minute penalty after being felled by Eduardo Vargas.

Running at pace into the area, even the slightest of contact would have sent the Belgian flying, and the tangle of feet with the Chilean saw referee Mike Jones rightly point to the spot to seal the points and put paid to the notion of a post-Halloween scare.

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