Chelsea 3-0 Brighton: Callum Hudson-Odoi impresses as Blues go fifth
Report and highlights as Chelsea continue their 100-per-cent league record against Brighton
By Pete Hall at Stamford Bridge
Last Updated: 04/04/19 6:27am
Callum Hudson-Odoi impressed on his first Premier League start as Chelsea leapfrogged Manchester United to go fifth with a comfortable 3-0 win over Brighton at Stamford Bridge.
With Maurizio Sarri bowing to fan pressure, all eyes were on Hudson-Odoi right from the off, and the youngster did not disappoint, as he brilliantly set up Olivier Giroud for Chelsea's opener in the 38th minute, a goal which took Hudson-Odoi's goal involvement - goals and assists combined - to nine in nine senior starts for the club in all competitions.
That opener seemed to deflate Brighton, who never really came out for the second half, with Eden Hazard dancing through their defence before curling home Chelsea's second on the hour mark, before Ruben Loftus-Cheek went one better with a superb curler of his own which flew into the top corner three minutes later to make it 3-0.
The rest of the match was a mere procession as Chelsea saw out a second successive win to move level on points with Arsenal in fourth, while Brighton, who managed just one shot on target all match, remain 15th, just five points clear of the relegation zone but with an FA Cup semi-final on Saturday to look forward to.
Chelsea: Arrizabalaga (6), Azpilicueta (7), Christensen (7), Luiz (6), Emerson (6), Jorginho (6), Kante (7), Loftus-Cheek (8), Hudson-Odoi (8), Giroud (8), Hazard (8)
Subs: Zappacosta (6), Willian (6), Kovacic (6).
Brighton: Ryan (7), Bruno (6), Duffy (6), Dunk (6), Bong (5), Stephens (6), Bissouma (6), Propper (6), March (6), Jahanbakhsh (7), Andone (7)
Subs: Knockaert (6), Murray (6), Bernardo (6).
Man of the match: Callum Hudson-Odoi
Hudson-Odoi was immediately in the thick of the action, with his low, drilled cross just deflected over as Brighton's defenders backed off.
Other than the vibrant 18-year-old's energy, Chelsea's play remained too ponderous as they struggled to create any real openings of note, with Brighton remaining a threat on the counter.
If Brighton were going to be unlocked it was going to be the man Chelsea fans have dubbed the 'Boy Wonder', and sure enough Hudson-Odoi used his pace and trickery to get to the byline on the right, before pulling back for Giroud to break the deadlock from close range with a smart finish, much to the relief of a frustrated Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea made seven changes from their win at Cardiff, including handing Callum Hudson-Odoi his first Premier League start. The 18-year-old made the XI along with Andreas Christensen, Emerson, N'Golo Kante, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Eden Hazard and Olivier Giroud. Brighton made four changes from their defeat to Southampton as Gaetan Bong, Bruno, Solly March and Florin Andone came into the team.
After the break, Hudson-Odoi almost got his name on the scoresheet, but headed straight at Brighton goalkeeper Mat Ryan.
The Chelsea faithful did not have to wait long for another goal, though, with Hazard brilliantly taking his Premier League tally to 14 goals as he scored from 20 yards after a mazy run, before Loftus-Cheek emulated the Belgium international with a brilliant strike from even further out moments later.
Brighton did have their one and only shot on target late on, but they never offered anything in response, with Chelsea seeing out the three points with consummate ease.
- Chelsea have won all eight of their league meetings with Brighton, the joint-best 100% win rate against an opponent in English league history (also 8/8 for Wimbledon v Bournemouth).
- Brighton have lost all 10 of their Premier League away games against 'big-six' sides, scoring just two goals in those matches.
- Callum Hudson-Odoi is the youngest player to provide an assist on his first Premier League start for Chelsea (18y 146d).
- Olivier Giroud has been directly involved in eight goals in his last five starts for Chelsea in all competition, scoring six and assisting two.
- Eden Hazard has been directly involved in 16 of Chelsea's 32 Premier League goals at Stamford Bridge this season (9 goals, 7 assists), over twice that of any other player at the club.
- Chelsea's Eden Hazard has been directly involved in six goals in his last three Premier League appearances against Brighton, scoring four and assisting two.
- Chelsea's Ruben Loftus-Cheek has both scored and assisted in a game for the first time ever in any competition
Maurizio Sarri: "Callum is ready to play in every match, even the most difficult matches. He improved a lot over the season. I am really happy for him. Not only in attack, but in defence. For this team, the future is could be good with Callum.
"He needs to improve, he can improve, and I want him to improve. He can become one of the best players in Europe."
Chris Hughton: "Everybody is fighting. We did ourselves no favours by not getting any type of result against Southampton. That makes it tougher for us.
"It was always in our hands and that's the way you prefer it. You don't want to rely on other results. We have games that we need to pick up points."
Man of the match - Callum Hudson-Odoi
It had to be him, didn't it? While Chelsea's football was slow and, at times, tepid, Hudson-Odoi offered them an outlet down the right, and gave Gaetan Bong plenty to ponder all match. Always willing to run at his man, his trickery opened Brighton up for the first goal, and continued to pose a threat all match, creating more chances than anyone else on the Stamford Bridge pitch.
Chelsea welcome West Ham to Stamford Bridge on Monday Night Football, live on Sky Sports, while Brighton host Bournemouth.