Wednesday 16 January 2019

Eden Hazard hits a major milestone as Chelsea beat Watford at Vicarage Road

Watford 1 Chelsea 2

Eden Hazard nagged a brace for Chelsea (Steven Paston/PA)
Eden Hazard nagged a brace for Chelsea (Steven Paston/PA)

Eden Hazard passed a century of Chelsea goals with a match-winning double in the Blues' 2-1 Premier League victory at Watford.

Chelsea's talisman forward has had a direct hand in a league-high 19 goals in 18 league games this term, and his Vicarage Road brace dragged the Blues back to winning ways.

Hazard opened the scoring with his 100th Chelsea strike, showing typically impressive composure in front of goal to round Ben Foster and tap home.

The 27-year-old then buried a penalty he had won by drawing a foul from Foster to put the Blues back ahead.

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri had criticised his players for their reaction to slipping behind against Leicester on Saturday, as they limped to a 1-0 Stamford Bridge defeat.

But here Chelsea displayed far more backbone in recovering from Roberto Pereyra's snap volley equaliser that had cancelled out Hazard's opener on the stroke of half-time.

While the Blues never quite clicked they still prevailed, capitalising on Arsenal's draw at Brighton to step back up to fourth in the table.

Chelsea struggled for fluency for the whole first-half, only for Hazard to stride through and tuck home late on with zero issue.

That fuss-free finish ought to have handed the Blues the half-time lead, but some sloppy defending gifted Watford one more opportunity - and one they did not waste.

Antonio Rudiger slipped and failed to complete a header, leaving Kepa Arrizabalaga to save well from Abdoulaye Doucoure, albeit at the expense of a corner. And when that set-piece found its way to the edge of the penalty area, Pereyra whipped a wicked volley into the bottom of the net.

Chelsea struggled to create chances before the break, aside from Willian hitting a post from an acute angle after rounding Foster. Christian Kabasele collided with the frame of the goal in his bid to foil Willian's strike, and was forced out of action.

The Blues were perhaps fortunate not to concede more than once, with Gerard Deulofeu miscuing a backheel to Troy Deeney after Kepa's botched clearance.

David Luiz's last-ditch block also denied Deeney after Jorginho lost possession cheaply.

Chelsea also lost Pedro to a possible hamstring issue just before the break, teeing up a tense second half.

Luiz escaped without punishment for a robust challenge on Deulofeu that left the ex-Barcelona man on the turf in the box in the first meaningful action after the break.

Hazard had far more joy from referee Martin Atkinson when he collided with Foster in the Watford area though. The Belgian duly picked himself up to score the spot-kick.

The swing between Watford, rightly, being denied a penalty and Chelsea converting theirs proved enough to kill the contest.

The ever-influential Hazard could even have had two more assists for that seasonal tally, but first Willian failed to bury a fine chance and then N'Golo Kante drilled wide when well placed.

Press Association

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