Haz­ard shreds Ever­ton to fire Chelsea top

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Chelsea went top of the Pre­mier League af­ter a bril­liant 5-0 win over Ever­ton yes­ter­day gave them the big­gest vic­tory of An­to­nio Conte’s man­age­rial ten­ure so far. Eden Haz­ard put in his best per­for­mance of the new era, scor­ing twice in an ex­cep­tional in­di­vid­ual per­for­mance, with Mar­cos Alonso, Diego Costa and Pe­dro Ro­driguez also on tar­get.

Ever­ton, sixth in the ta­ble, never looked ca­pa­ble of cop­ing with Chelsea and col­lapsed un­der the weight of the home side’s re­peated at­tacks. Chelsea cur­rently look a world away from the prob­lems of last sea­son and this was the fourth awk­ward-look­ing game in a row in which they have made things look all too easy.

It helped greatly that they claimed an early lead for the fourth suc­ces­sive game, too, even if this per­for­mance was slightly more slug­gish than the pre­vi­ous three in that re­spect.

Against Le­ices­ter City, it took seven min­utes for them to score; against Manch­ester United, it was one; against Southamp­ton it was six, and here it was 19.

Haz­ard struck in a man­ner that has be­come in­creas­ingly fa­mil­iar since the start of the sea­son, cut­ting in from the left wing and hit­ting a low, bounc­ing shot that caught goal­keeper Maarten Steke­len­burg un­sighted. There was a pos­si­bil­ity that Pe­dro was off­side, but the goal was al­lowed to stand.

Chelsea wasted no time ex­tend­ing their ad­van­tage, with just 24 sec­onds of play­ing time elaps­ing be­tween their first and sec­ond goals. Conte halted an Ever­ton coun­ter­at­tack in its tracks and af­ter bril­liantly wrig­gling be­tween two play­ers, Haz­ard played the ball through to Pe­dro on the right.

The winger looked to square the ball to Costa, but with the pass ar­riv­ing slightly be­hind the striker, the on­com­ing Alonso roared at him to get out of the way and thun­dered a shot be­tween Steke­len­burg’s legs.

It was the Span­ish wing-back’s first Chelsea goal fol­low­ing his close-sea­son switch from Fiorentina.

Ever­ton man­ager Ron­ald Koe­man’s at­tempt to mir­ror Conte’s new three-man de­fence had clearly failed and it took him just 36 min­utes to aban­don it. Bryan Oviedo was hauled off for Kevin Mi­ral­las, al­though it did not ac­tu­ally help. Chelsea con­tin­ued their on­slaught. Vic­tor Moses smashed the post with a bril­liantly hit shot on the halfvol­ley, be­fore Costa made it 3-0. Ne­manja Matic flicked on Haz­ard’s cor­ner on 43 min­utes and the striker slammed home at the back post. The best was still to come, how­ever, as Chelsea’s best player moved onto an­other level.

On 56 min­utes, Haz­ard surged for­ward down the right touch­line and flicked the ball to Pe­dro, who sent it back to him with a won­der­fully deft back-heel. The Bel­gian homed in on goal, be­fore ac­cu­rately driv­ing the ball past Steke­len­burg with his left foot.

It was his sev­enth goal in 11 league games, mark­ing his best start to a sea­son since mov­ing to Stam­ford Bridge from Lille in 2012. Chelsea then went on to com­plete their best re­sult of the sea­son so far as Pe­dro got the goal his per­for­mance de­served by vol­ley­ing in from close range af­ter Steke­len­burg had thwarted Haz­ard.

It marked an im­pres­sive es­ca­la­tion in re­sults, with Chelsea hav­ing won their last three home games 3-0, 4-0 and now 5-0.

Conte brought on John Terry at the end and it was a mea­sure of the hosts’ dom­i­nance-and Ever­ton’s hap­less­ness-that even the vet­eran cen­tre-back was able to join in with their at­tacks. — AFP

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