Hazard inspires Chelsea to 4-0 thrashing of Brighton

Eden Hazard scored twice as Chelsea beat Brighton 4-0

Chelsea moved level on points with second-placed Manchester United after two goals in the opening six minutes put them on the way to victory over a spirited Brighton.

Eden Hazard opened the scoring for the visitors with a neat finish from inside the box and midfielder Willian added a second from 18 yards, after a slick move that he started, to leave Chris Hughton’s side facing an uphill task.

The hosts’ response was impressive, they should have had a penalty when Chelsea stand-in goalkeeper Willy Caballero upended defender Ezequiel Schelotto, while Israeli striker Tomer Hemed was brilliantly denied by the former Manchester City shot-stopper.

Netherlands international midfielder Davy Propper headed against the post and Schelotto went close after the break.

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Chelsea were always a threat though and Willian saw a free-kick pushed onto the post by Brighton keeper Mat Ryan before Hazard scored his second with a fine solo effort before Victor Moses’ late goal completed the victory.

The Brighton manager tried something different at the back, selecting five defenders to try and halt his side’s costly tendency to concede from set-pieces.

But it was from open play where they simply couldn’t live with an opponent they haven’t beaten since 1933.

Brighton, with a steady central defensive pairing of Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy, have had a relatively mean defence this term – only the league’s top eight sides had conceded less than them before this defeat.

Yet a mixture of misfortune and sloppy play cost them dearly, with Hazard the benefactor on both occasions.

First, Moses’ early cross was deflected by Dale Stephens into the path of the Belgian playmaker who quickly found a gap to score the opener. Then Duffy lost possession, allowing Hazard to zip forward and stroke home the third.

There were positives for the Seagulls. They caused Chelsea problems and had VAR been in use they could well have been awarded a penalty when Schelotto was felled.

The industrious Argentina full-back combined well with Pascal Gross down the right flank and will soon have a £14m centre forward to aim for in the shape of new signing Jurgen Locadia.

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