Football: Hazard nets double as Chelsea rout Brighton
January 20, 2018 | 8:05 PM
by Reuters
Chelsea's Eden Hazard, centre, in action during their Premier League game against Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday. Photo - Reuters

London: Two goals from Eden Hazard helped Chelsea cruise to a 4-0 victory at Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League on Saturday for their first league win of 2018.

Chelsea's midweek penalty shootout success over Norwich City in the FA Cup meant they had drawn their last five games in regulation time in all competitions but Hazard and Willian struck inside six minutes to set them on their way on Saturday.

Brighton tried to get back into the match but were denied by the bar, some fine saves by Willy Caballero -- making his first league start for Chelsea in place of injured Thibaut Courtois -- while having two penalty appeals waved away by the referee.

With Brighton pushing forward, Hazard brilliantly netted a third 13 minutes from time before Victor Moses made it four late on. The win took Chelsea above Liverpool -- who play on Monday -- into third. One win in 13 league games leaves Brighton 16th.

"Today, it was a really good performance," Chelsea manager Antonio Conte said. "I saw important things. Now, we have to continue."

With Alvaro Morata suspended, Michy Batshuayi led the line for Chelsea against a Brighton side who went with three central defenders, and before the hosts even had chance to settle, Moses squared for Hazard to fire into the net three minutes in.

After previously scoring just once in four games in all competitions, Chelsea had two inside six minutes at the Amex. Batshuayi was heavily involved, laying the ball off for Willian to drill home.

"We didn't do ourselves any favours by going 2-0 down so early," Brighton manager Chris Hughton said. "But the result is not a full reflection of the game."

Brighton were unfortunate not to earn a penalty after Caballero appeared to upend defender Ezequiel Schelotto, before Chelsea's stand-in keeper did well to beat out Tomer Hemed's header.

After the break, Brighton continued to threaten, and were inches away from getting back into the match, but Davy Propper saw his effort hit the crossbar.

Home goalkeeper Mathew Ryan then tipped an effort from Willian onto the post, before Hazard was more clinical, firing in after Brighton had allowed him to carry the ball into the box, unchallenged.

Chelsea were not finished, as Moses latched onto a brilliant pass from substitute Charly Musonda to put the seal on a fine performance one minute from time.

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