Eden Hazard scored in Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Newcastle
Eden Hazard was targeted for rough treatment by Newcastle on Super Sunday, but he shrugged it off to play a key role in Chelsea’s 2-1 win. It bodes well for his future – and Chelsea’s – under Maurizio Sarri…
“Two-hundred per cent ready.” That was how Eden Hazard described himself shortly before Chelsea’s meeting with Newcastle. The Belgian has been carefully managed by Maurizio Sarri following his World Cup exploits, appearing only as a substitute in their first two games, but he was true to his word on his first start of the season at St James’ Park.
Sarri had said Hazard was only fit enough for “50 or 60 minutes” in his pre-match press conference, but it is a measure of his influence that he ended up completing the 90. Newcastle were set up to frustrate – ceding possession and piling men behind the ball – but Hazard was a constant threat, capping a man-of-the-match display by dispatching Chelsea’s controversial penalty.
There were no signs of rustiness – only the usual intent and imagination on the ball and determination off it. Hazard was targeted by Newcastle from the start, with Matt Ritchie raking his studs down the back of his leg inside the first minute, but he did not hide. Instead, he kept showing for the ball; kept trying to make things happen.
Hazard relished the freedom to drift across Chelsea’s front line. He popped up in both wide and central positions, and showed his usual quick feet and close control in tight situations. On the hour-mark, he flashed a low shot wide. Soon after that he teed up Pedro for an excellent chance following another mazy dribble from the left.
Eden Hazard was given freedom to roam by Maurizio Sarri
Hazard almost put Chelsea in front with another dazzling moment shortly before the break, dummying a pass for N’Golo Kante on the edge of Newcastle’s box before collecting the Frenchman’s return ball and skipping past goalkeeper Martin Dubravka – only to be crowded out before he could direct a shot at goal.
Newcastle dropped even deeper after the break, completing just 94 passes to Chelsea’s 469, but the visitors continued to rely on Hazard’s ingenuity to create chances. In the 50th minute, it was him who switched the play from left to right, giving Cesar Azpilicueta the space to test Dubravka. It was not the only occasion his vision stretched Newcastle’s stubborn defence.