Friday 19 January 2018

Eden Hazard reminds England of World Cup threat as Chelsea sink Newcastle

Chelsea's Eden Hazard is a player whose threat England will hope to tame
Chelsea's Eden Hazard is a player whose threat England will hope to tame

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte believes England may require some insider information to keep Eden Hazard quiet at next summer's World Cup.

Hazard should be part of the Belgium team who face the Three Lions after the nations were paired in Group G in Friday's draw, along with Tunisia and Panama.

The 26-year-old stole the show as he returned to the Chelsea side to score twice as the reigning Premier League champions came from behind to beat Newcastle 3-1 on Saturday.

Dwight Gayle had given Newcastle a shock lead as Rafael Benitez returned to Stamford Bridge for the first time since his acrimonious six-month tenure as Blues boss in 2013.

But Chelsea hit back as Hazard levelled with a smart finish and wrapped up the points with a deft 'Panenka' penalty after Alvaro Morata had headed in to give Conte's side the lead at the interval.

Hazard has been in impressive form so far this season and Conte reckons England boss Gareth Southgate may need to ask Chelsea's Gary Cahill and Danny Drinkwater for the inside track on stopping the forward when his side face Belgium on June 28.

"I saw the draw and I saw that England and Belgium are in the same group," Conte said.

"I think that there are two teams to qualify for the next round and England and Belgium are favourites. It will be special to see this game, if I have the possibility I would like to watch this game.

"There is Cahill and Danny, I speak with Gary to tell him to give the kicks to Eden. I think every day in the training sessions with this type of player and skill makes you stronger and I think Gary knows very well Hazard's skill and for this reason he must pay great attention."

Conte had complained about a fixture pile-up ahead of this game but was pleased with his side's reaction to falling behind as the win moved them to eight points behind leaders Manchester City, who face West Ham on Sunday.

"I think we must be pleased, it was a good answer from all of my players," he said.

"I think maybe we started the game a bit slow but after, when we went 1-0 down, we started to play with good intensity, we had chances to score and then we had a good performance. It was very important to take three points and we did this."

Benitez said it was a "pity" his team could not build on their early lead and they have now taken just one point from their last six league games.

The Spaniard, who won the Europa League during his stint as Chelsea boss also believes Hazard has improved since his time in charge.

"He was quite good at that time, he is even better now, he has experience and can make the difference in many games," Benitez said.

"It is a pity because we started really well and then made mistakes.

"They have a lot of good things, they have to compete for the title. It is obvious they will be one of the teams in the top three. We did well."

Press Association

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