Premier League: Eden Hazard's hat-trick inspired Chelsea to 3-0 win over Newcastle
Eden Hazard inspired Chelsea to a 3-0 win over Newcastle with a superb hat-trick to send them to the top of the table.
By Pete O'Rourke - Follow me: @skysportspeteo
Last Updated: 08/02/14 8:03pm
The Belgium international was in imperious form as Newcastle failed to control the in-form winger as Chelsea completed a good week with another three points after their win over title rivals Manchester City on Monday night.
Jose Mourinho had labelled his side "a little horse" up against two thoroughbreds in the shape of Manchester City and Arsenal, but the Blues now have their noses in front with three months to go.
Hazard put Chelsea in firm control with two fine first-half strikes before completing his treble from the penalty spot in the second half as Newcastle slumped to a second 3-0 defeat in a week.
It was Hazard who had the first chance of the game after just two minutes when he beat Vurnon Anita and fired in a low shot which Tim Krul comfortably collected.
Newcastle showed they were not willing to sit back and defend and Hatem Ben Arfa fashioned an opening for himself on nine minutes, but his right-footed effort was saved by Petr Cech.
Frank Lampard, who was captaining Chelsea in the absence of John Terry, had a sight of goal on 11 minutes when Samuel Eto'o teed him up on the edge of the box, but the midfielder drilled his shot wide of the target.
Chelsea were getting closer to breaking the deadlock and Oscar was inches away from scoring on 26 minutes when Eto'o found him in space on the edge of the box and the Brazilian fizzed his effort wide of the post with Krul beaten.
However, a minute later Chelsea did take the lead as Hazard found Branislav Ivanovic out wide on the right and he crossed for the Belgian to sweep home a first-time shot past Krul.
Newcastle wasted a great opportunity to draw level on 33 minutes when Moussa Sissoko broke the Chelsea offside trap to latch onto Davide Santon's pass, but the midfielder's first touch let him down and Cech was quickly off his line to block.
The visitors were made to pay for that miss as seconds later Chelsea swept straight up the other end and Hazard doubled their advantage with a superb effort.
Willian started off the counter attack, playing the ball out to Hazard and he fed Eto'o who returned the ball with a brilliant round-the-corner flick and the in-form Belgian slotted his shot past Krul.
Luuk de Jong had a chance to pull a goal back for Newcastle on 39 minutes when Sissoko picked him out with a fine cross, but the on-loan striker could not get enough power on his header to trouble Cech.
Chelsea were almost gifted a third goal early in the second half when Krul came out his penalty area to deal with a long clearance from David Luiz only to lose his footing and fortunately for the Newcastle keeper the ball ran away from Oscar and just wide of the open goal.
Chelsea continued to call the tune and Mike Williamson made a vital block to deny Eto'o from inside the box before Lampard saw his free-kick from an acute angle tipped over the crossbar.
From the resulting corner, Chelsea won a penalty when substitute Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa needlessly hauled down Eto'o and Hazard stepped up to coolly score from the spot and complete his hat-trick.
Mohamed Salah was brought on 10 minutes from time for his debut and the Egyptian really should have scored when he was played in on goal, but his effort was kept out by Krul.
Newcastle should have netted a consolation two minutes from time when substitute Sylvain Marveaux had only Cech to beat but somehow slid his shot wide of the target.