LONDON: Eden Hazard gave England followers a glimpse of what to expect at next summer’s World Cup with a glorious display as Chelsea beat Newcastle United 3-1 at Stamford Bridge.
Less than 24 hours after the World Cup draw put Belgium and England in the same group, Belgian Hazard was in imperious form, scoring twice and running at defenders at will.
Chelsea’s victory, which keeps them third in the Premier League, ought to have been more emphatic but it briefly looked as if they might not collect the three points at all when Newcastle took a surprise lead in the 12th minute.
Dwight Gayle chased down his own header and hurried Marcos Alonso into a back-pass which sold his keeper Thibaut Courtois short. Seeking to prevent Jacob Murphy nipping in to round him, Courtois was forced to dive at the Newcastle winger’s feet but succeeded only in pushing the ball back to Gayle, who stroked it into the empty net.
The Chelsea response was immediate. Twice they went close before inevitable equaliser finally arrived after 20 minutes. Alvaro Morata contested a high ball and it bounced off him and dropped towards Hazard, who controlled his half-volley to perfection, driving the ball into the ground and bouncing it into the far corner of the net.