The one-man creative spark for Chelsea, Eden Hazard, proved again against Cardiff City why he is the Blues’ most valuable player and most coveted player, scoring a hat-trick and bamboozling the opposition in the sunshine in SW6. As the crowd rose to give him a standing ovation as he was subbed in the 84th
The one-man creative spark for Chelsea, Eden Hazard, proved again against Cardiff City why he is the Blues’ most valuable player and most coveted player, scoring a hat-trick and bamboozling the opposition in the sunshine in SW6.
As the crowd rose to give him a standing ovation as he was subbed in the 84th minute, Bluebirds’ gaffer Neil Warnock could only shake his head in admiration.
The Belgian wizard inspired Chelsea’s comeback after Cardiff took a shock lead at Stamford Bridge in the 16th minute, when the muscular and impressive Sol Bamba flew through the air like Bruce Lee in a 70s kung-fu movie to volley past the helpless Kepa Arrizabalaga.
The Blues had been given notice just four minutes earlier when Bamba was allowed a free header from a Joe Ralls corner… but misdirected it wide of the Chelsea goal.
Galvanised into action after the Bluebirds – wearing fetching silvery grey shirts with white shorts – had controlled the opening 20 minutes, Chelsea finally got their act together.
Mateo Kovacic’s shot was blocked by Neil Etheridge’s outstretched leg, Pedro came close with a curler then a lob, and Marcos Alonso fired a promising free kick just over the bar.
Cometh the 37th minute, cometh the man. Hazard slipped a string of tackles on the edge of the Cardiff box, exchanged a quick one-two with Olivier Giroud (picked ahead of the off-colour Alvaro Morata), then buried the ball in the corner of the net for the equaliser.
Seven minutes later he was through again as Chelsea besieged the Cardiff goal in a dominant spell ahead of the break. His shot bundled in off a Cardiff defender after he’d again been set up by Giroud, the duo making a more intuitive pairing up front than the customary Morata/Hazard double act.
Hazard got his hat-trick via the spot after Willian was felled by Bamba in the 80th minute, and there was time for the Brazilian to score one of his own – the cream of the afternoon’s goals – moments later, a 25-yard cracker with next to no backlift.
Next up, after a Europa League outing to Greece on Thursday, is the little matter of a visit to West Ham on Sunday lunchtime.