Eden Hazard was the star of the show as Chelsea earned a dominant 3-0 Premier League victory over Burnley at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
After opening the scoring with just nine minutes played by surging down the left on the counter-attack and curling home from 20 yards, the mercurial Hazard was the central attacking figure in a tactically astute display from Chelsea.
Burnley shocked Liverpool last weekend by finishing clinically on the break in a 2-0 win at Turf Moor, and in a bid to avoid suffering a similar fate Antonio Conte’s side sat deep and were happy to allow the visitors to hold the ball in the first half.
Having seen his team run close by League One side Bristol Rovers in a 3-2 EFL Cup triumph on Tuesday, Conte urged his team to kill games off, and he will surely see what followed Hazard’s strike as a step in the right direction.
Willian – who missed the last two matches with a calf problem – fired home the second before half-time, while Hazard, already denied another by a goal-line clearance from Ben Mee, was frustrated twice by Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton after the restart.
The Belgian’s efforts came as part of a more actively attacking display from Chelsea, which finally paid dividends when substitute duo Pedro and Victor Moses combined for the latter to score the third after 89 minutes – his first league goal for the club since November 2012.
Chelsea took just nine minutes to get off the mark when a sloppy pass from Andre Gray, charged with misconduct by the Football Association in midweek after homophobic posts from his Twitter account from 2012 were circulated, was pounced upon and Hazard stormed forward before cutting onto his right foot and guiding an effort into the bottom-right corner.
He could have had a second five minutes later but his shot from the left-hand side of the box was cleared off the line by Mee, while Gary Cahill had a volley from the edge of the box deflected narrowly wide from the ensuing corner.
Chelsea refused to press when Burnley had possession, instead picking their moments to attempt a counter-attack, and a reaction save from Heaton stopped Diego Costa turning home Hazard’s cutback.
The second goal finally came when Costa found Willian on the right-hand side of the box and the Brazilian drilled a fine finish into the far corner four minutes before half-time.
Chelsea raised their intensity in the second half and Willian floated a corner to Hazard, whose volley from 20 yards out forced an excellent save from Heaton down to his left, with John Terry blazing the loose ball over from six yards.
Another important intervention from Mee stopped Costa converting after Heaton denied Hazard again just after the hour-mark, and the Belgian received a rapturous ovation from the home faithful when he was replaced by Pedro in the 81st minute.
The Spaniard had enough time to make his mark, leading another Chelsea counter-attack down the left and picking out Moses to convert at the back post.
As Chelsea surged, Heaton had to deny Cesar Azpilicueta in the 93rd minute, and Conte – who has his first clean sheet at the helm – now takes his 100 per cent record to Swansea City after the international break, while Burnley will be back in the comforts of home against Hull City.
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