Chelsea 3-0 West Brom: Eden Hazard double eases pressure on Antonio Conte
By Pete Hall
Last Updated: 13/02/18 10:31am
Eden Hazard scored twice as Chelsea bounced back from consecutive Premier League defeats with a 3-0 victory over West Brom on Monday Night Football to move back into the top four.
After making a shaky start, Hazard settled the nerves around Stamford Bridge with a brilliantly-worked opener in the 25th minute, but the hosts continued to look vulnerable at the back as West Brom missed several chances to equalise.
Victor Moses capitalised on a fortunate deflection to double Chelsea's advantage in the 63rd minute, before Hazard scored a stunning third eight minutes later to make sure of a crucial three points for Chelsea.
The victory sees Chelsea climb back above Tottenham into fourth after just a third win in 11 in all competitions - easing the pressure on head coach Antonio Conte in the process - while West Brom's problems continue as they stayed rooted to the bottom of the Premier League, seven points from safety with 11 games remaining.
Chelsea: Courtois (6), Azpilicueta (7), Rudiger (6), Christensen (6), Moses 7), Kante (6), Fabregas (6), Zappacosta (6), Pedro (6), Giroud (6), Hazard (8).
Subs: Cahill (N/A), Willian (N/A), Morata (6).
West Brom: Foster (6), Dawson (5), Hegazi (6), Evans (6), Gibbs (6), Phillips (6), Barry (6), Krychowiak (6), Brunt (5), Rondon (6), Sturridge (5).
Subs: Burke (5), Rodriguez (6).
Man of the match: Eden Hazard
West Brom suffered a huge blow to their game plan in the third minute as Daniel Sturridge was forced off with an injury but his replacement, Jay Rodriguez, could have won a penalty with his first touch, but no foul was adjudged to have been committed by Cesc Fabregas.
Rodriguez remained in the thick of the action and he drilled a first-time effort wide having latched onto a misplaced header from Moses.
Chelsea did settle into the match and went close to breaking the deadlock after 16 minutes but Davide Zappacosta saw his back-post effort well saved by Ben Foster. The West Brom stopper then saved Olivier Giroud's tame effort from point-blank range with his legs.
Olivier Giroud made his first start for Chelsea after his Deadline Day move from Arsenal, and Alvaro Morata was fit enough for a place on the bench. Antonio Conte also dropped captain Gary Cahill to the bench as one of four changes from the 4-1 humbling at Watford a week ago. Captain Jonny Evans made his first West Brom appearance since the close of the Transfer Window, re-taking the captain's armband and replacing Gareth McAuley at the heart of defence. There were two other changes for the visitors, with Grzegorz Krychowiak and Kieran Gibbs also recalled.
But Giroud turned provider to help Chelsea take the lead. Hazard fed the ball into the France international, he backed into his man, cushioned the pass back in Hazard's path, for the Chelsea forward to sweep the ball home.
Giroud then came close to a first Chelsea goal, but he could not quite get the desired connection on an overhead kick from close range.
After the break, Chelsea again struggled to find their rhythm, and could easily have conceded an equaliser after Andreas Christensen had been caught on the ball by Salomon Rondon, but the West Brom hitman was denied by a smart Thibaut Courtois stop before Jonny Evans headed wide from the resulting corner.
Those misses proved costly as Chelsea wrapped up victory in the space of eight minutes. First, Moses fed the ball into Fabregas, who tried to flick the ball through for substitute Alvaro Morata, Craig Dawson made the block, but inadvertently diverted the ball back into the path of Moses, who stroked the ball into the net.
Then, Hazard carried the ball to the edge of the box, cut inside, before rifling a strike past Foster at his near post to cap a man-of-the-match display.
Chelsea have won all four Premier League meetings against West Brom under Antonio Conte without conceding a single goal.
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West Brom have not beaten Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in any of their last 17 visits in all competitions (D3 L14), since winning 1-0 in the League Cup in November 1983 under Ron Wylie.
West Brom have won just one of their last 25 Premier League matches (D11 L13).
Eden Hazard has had a hand in 105 goals in the Premier League for Chelsea (68 goals, 37 assists) - only Didier Drogba (159) and Frank Lampard (237) have been involved in more for the club.
Antonio Conte: "I think we forced Giroud to play because we had Morata injured, and it was important to have a point of reference like him. He could become an important player and at the same time I had a good answer from Alvaro and we must be happy, because to have two strikers in contention for us is very important."
Alan Pardew: "It was a blow to lose Daniel on his first run.That didn't give us the perfect start. We just can't seem to get the goals that get us the wins, and they need to come, and come quickly, so Daniel's recovery will be important now - we need to get him back."
The pundit - Thierry Henry
"I don't know what he saw there [Hazard for Chelsea's third], but he saw it. Even Ben Foster doesn't see the ball. Hazard uses Gibbs as a protection.
"When he picks it up, if you are Eden Hazard, and a quality player, sometimes you finish the job. I love people that think about the team, but just finish it. Why not?"
Man of the match - Eden Hazard
Chelsea needed their leading light to produce the goods to bring their losing streak to an end, and the Belgium international didn't disappoint. Hazard's goals have dug Chelsea out of many a hole before, and his continued ruthlessness was the difference at Stamford Bridge once more. Hazard has now scored with six of his last eight shots on target in the Premier League.
Chelsea's next fixture sees them take on Hull in the FA Cup on Friday night, with their next league fixture being another home clash with Manchester United on February 25. West Brom welcome Southampton to The Hawthorns on Saturday in the cup, before hosting Huddersfield in the Premier League on February 24.