Chelsea 4-1 Cardiff: Eden Hazard hat-trick seals comeback win for Blues
Willian also on target for rampant Blues after Sol Bamba's opener
By Ron Walker
Last Updated: 15/09/18 9:10pm
Chelsea made it five wins from five as Eden Hazard's hat-trick saw them sweep Cardiff aside 4-1 at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues fell behind for the first time this season when Sol Bamba turned in from close range following Sean Morrison's flick-on from a free-kick (17).
But Chelsea began to turn on the style before half-time with a number of one-touch moves, and they levelled when Olivier Giroud flicked the ball into Hazard, who took a touch before firing beyond Neil Etheridge from the edge of the box (37).
The Belgian had them in front before the break from another Giroud assist, this time from the edge of the six-yard box (44), and added a third from the spot late on when Bamba bundled into Willian (81).
Chelsea: Kepa (6), Azpilicueta (7), Rudiger (6), Luiz (6), Alonso (6), Jorginho (6), Kante (7), Kovacic (6), Pedro (5), Giroud (8), Hazard (9).
Subs: Barkley (7), Willian (7), Zappacosta (n/a).
Cardiff: Etheridge (7), Manga (6), Bamba (6), Morrison (7), Bennett (6), Camarasa (5), Ralls (6), Arter (6), Hoilett (5), Ward (6), Reid (6).
Subs: Richards (6), Paterson (7), Madine (6).
Man of the match: Eden Hazard
The Brazilian, a second-half substitute, got in on the act himself with a curling finish from outside the box (83), to give table-topping Chelsea their best start in eight years, and leave Cardiff still looking for their first win.
Cardiff had begun with the same level of intent they had shown from the off against Arsenal before the international break, and Bamba gave them a warning of their potency from set-pieces when he headed a Joe Ralls corner wide of the far post.
It wasn't heeded, and Morrison was given a simple task of providing an assist from a free-kick - as he had against Arsenal - and find a sliding Bamba to score the opener soon after.
Chelsea then began to turn on the style at last, and Mateo Kovacic should have levelled when played through by a delightful backheel from Giroud, but Etheridge smothered his shot.
Chelsea dropped Alvaro Morata to the bench after a poor showing against Bournemouth, with Olivier Giroud replacing him.
Cardiff were unchanged from their narrow 3-2 defeat to Arsenal a fortnight ago.
More 'Sarri-ball' showed in flashes, and it was an excellent move which did eventually break Cardiff's resistance. Antonio Rudiger stepped out of defence, he looked into Giroud and his first-time ball found Hazard, who took a touch before drilling into the far corner from outside the box.
And the game was turned on its head before the break, when Pedro's drilled cross from the left was kept alive by Giroud and turned into the path of Hazard, who slotted in from close range.
After half-time Cardiff looked content to wait for their moment, while Chelsea's intensity dropped, without being caused too much trouble.
But a moment of madness would cement their victory, when Bamba clattered into Willian with the Brazilian going away from goal, and Hazard fired in from the spot.
Willian then got one of his own when he found a yard of space and left Etheridge helpless with a fine finish from 20 yards.
- Chelsea have won their opening five games to a Premier League season for the fourth time after 2005-06, 2009-10 and 2010-11 - more than any other team in the competition.
- This is the first time that Cardiff have opened an English top-flight campaign without winning any of their first five games since 1921-22.
- Cardiff boss Neil Warnock has gone 11 Premier League games without a win as manager for the first time (W0 D5 L6).
- Cardiff are winless in seven matches in all competitions (W0 D3 L4), their worst run under Neil Warnock; they last went on a longer run without victory between January and February 2015 (eight games).
- Since his Premier League debut in August 2012, Chelsea's Eden Hazard (115) has been directly involved in more goals than any other midfielder in the competition (74 goals, 41 assists).
- Eden Hazard is the fourth player to score more than one Premier League hat-trick for Chelsea (also Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink).
- Cardiff's Sol Bamba became the oldest player to score his first Premier League goal (33y 244d) since Zlatan Ibrahimovic in August 2016 (34y 316d).
- Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud provided two assists in a single Premier League game for the third time in his career and first since January 2017 vs Bournemouth.
Man of the match - Eden Hazard
Hazard was at his sublime best with his second Chelsea hat-trick, breaking down a tough Cardiff resistance to level with a lovely finish, before showing his predatory instincts to put the Blues ahead.
It was not just his goalscoring which caught the eye, he won more than 60 per cent of his duels on the afternoon and put two good crosses in - as many as anyone else on the pitch.
"Hazard was unbelievable, unplayable," pundit Tony Cottee told Sky Sports News. "It was one of those days. Every time he got the ball he made things happen.
"The equalising goal was fantastic, his second had a little bit of luck, and the penalty was undoubtedly a penalty."
Chelsea travel to Greece to face PAOK in the Europa League on Thursday night at 7.45pm, while Cardiff are back in action next Saturday when they host Manchester City at 3pm.