Saturday 17 August 2019

Hudson-Odoi sparkles in Brighton rout

Chelsea 3-0 Brighton

Chelsea's Callum Hudson-Odoi suffers a cruel injury blow. Photo: Getty
Chelsea's Callum Hudson-Odoi suffers a cruel injury blow. Photo: Getty
Chelsea's Olivier Giroud celebrates scoring. Photo: Getty

Jim White

For the Chelsea fans, this was more like it. None of the dispiriting emptiness of the display at Cardiff last weekend.

This was a performance of intelligence, fluency and control, rounded off with a surfeit of memorable goals.

And for the regulars the reason seemed all too clear: at last their manager had selected the rising local hero Callum Hudson-Odoi.

When it was announced before kick-off that he was in the starting line-up, Hudson-Odoi's name got a huge cheer.

Which was much as a vocal indictment of Maurizio Sarri's selection policy as anything: this was 40,000 people loudly wondering why on earth it had taken the Chelsea manager this long to see sense and give the lad his first Premier League start. Well, not quite 40,000.

While elsewhere in London the Tottenham crowd was en fete, giddy in their new surrounds, Chelsea's had taken the night off. Half the regulars had yet to take their seats even as the teams made their way from the tunnel.

The man they had come to see was soon involved, however, earning a free-kick.

Moments later, played in by N'Golo Kante, he cut inside from the right wing where he was stationed, and fired in a goal-bound left foot shot that was deflected wide by Shane Duffy.

Inside him, the other Chelsea youth product Ruben Loftus-Cheek was exuding ease. Everything the tall, elegant midfielder did was calm, considered, unhurried.

On 38 minutes, receiving a cross-field ball from Hazard, Hudson-Odoi skipped past substitute Anthony Knockaert and fizzed an invitation of a cross towards the near post, where Olivier Giroud arrived to stab the ball home.

It was a goal the home fans had long envisaged and one that gave them a 1-0 half-time lead.

Hazard was in masterful form, taking control of the game just after half time. Receiving the ball from Loftus-Cheek on the fringes of the Brighton area, he left Lewis Dunk stranded before sweeping the ball past Mat Ryan.

With Chelsea now dominating, Loftus-Cheek then demonstrated that anything his young England colleague can do, he could do just as well.

Receiving a pass from Hazard outside the Brighton box, he turned and adroitly arced a shot beyond Ryan's reach into the corner of the net. (The Daily Telegraph, London)

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