Premier League - Hazard hits hat-trick as Chelsea go top

Premier League, Stamford Bridge - Chelsea (Hazard 27’ 34’ 63’ (pen)) Newcastle 0

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Eden Hazard scores for Chelsea against Newcastle (AFP)

Eden Hazard scored three as Chelsea beat Newcastle in an easy 3-0 win which put them top of the Premier League table.

Chelsea started patiently, but dominated possession from the opening whistle. While it took them some time to get up to speed, they never panicked, and when Hazard first scored on 27 minutes it seemed inevitable.

The Belgian forward turned neatly into space after receiving the ball in midfield, spread the ball wide for Branislav Ivanovic on the right, turning the return pass sweetly into the far corner.

Seven minutes later he scored his and Chelsea’s second, playing a one-two with Samuel Eto’o, whose pass was back-heeled, and finishing with a clever, clipped shot past Krul.

In the second half, Hazard got his third. Substitute Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa fouled Eto’o for no reason at a corner, and Hazard converted the penalty.

Newcastle failed to create any great chances, and were limited to increasingly rare shots from distance until Marveaux missed an easy chance with minutes remaining. Chelsea are unlikely to have an easier victory all season.

KEY EVENTS

26’ - OSCAR CHANCE - Eto’o squares the ball across the edge of the box, and Oscar sends his shot just inches wide.

27’ - HAZARD’S FIRST - After finding Ivanovic on the right, Hazard turns his cross into the goal without breaking stride.

34’ - HAZARD AGAIN - Another goal for Hazard as Willian breaks down the left wing, gives the ball to the Belgian who converts a one-two with Eto’o with a lovely shot.

53’ - KRUL MISTAKE - Luiz launches the ball forward and the bounce wrong-foots Krul, who slips over as he comes towards the ball, and Oscar is just short of turning the ball in as it runs out of play.

58’ - ETO’O CHANCE - Ivanovic hits an early cross towards Eto’o, but he delays his shot until he can only have it blocked, and it’s easily stopped.

61’ - KRUL SAVE - Lampard aims a shot on the side of the penalty area, but Krul tips over for a corner.

63’ - HAZARD HAT-TRICK - An impressively stupid foul by Yanga-Mbiwa gives Hazard the chance to score his third, sending a penalty two yards to the side of a static Krul.

87’ - DOUBLE MISS - Salah, and then Marveaux, both have chances when bearing down on goal, and both blast the ball at the ‘keeper.

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KEY STATS

Chelsea are unbeaten in 73 Barclays Premier League home games with Jose Mourinho as boss.

Alan Pardew’s side have failed to score in six of their last seven Premier League games, losing four and winning just one in this run.

Chelsea have won seven of their last eight Premier League games.

Since losing 3-2 at Stoke, Chelsea have conceded only three goals in 10 games.

Newcastle have lost five of their seven Premier League games since beating Stoke 5-1 on Boxing Day.

MATCHCAST: FULL MATCH STATS AND COMMENTARY

TALKING POINT

Does Hazard make Chelsea favourites for the title? Apart from Luis Suarez, there is nobody in the league in such good form as Eden Hazard. His quality might be the difference between Chelsea and Manchester City in the title race.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Eden Hazard (Chelsea): Samuel Eto’o did well to link up play between the three behind him, and Oscar and Willian both provided attacking threats and assists, but nobody did all three as Hazard, who also scored the winner.

PLAYER RATINGS

Chelsea: Cech 6, Ivanovic 7, Cahill 6, D Luiz 6, Azpilicueta 6, Matic 7, Lampard 6, Willian 7, Oscar 7, Hazard 9, Eto’o 8. Subs: Schurrle 6, Salah 6, Ba 6.

Newcastle United: Krul 6, Debuchy 6, Williamson 6, S.Taylor 6, Dummett 6, Anita 5, Santon 6, Ben Arfa 6, Sissoko 6, Sammy Ameobi 6, de Jong 6. Subs: Yanga-Mbiwa 5, Gosling 5, Marveaux 6.

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