The sooner Chelsea’s board sits Eden Hazard down to sign a new contract with the Blues, the better. The Belgian maestro weaved his magic to earn three away points at Brighton, scoring one and creating the other in a 2-1 victory.
Despite being chopped down a few times (although one or two ‘fouls’ against the little wizard were more open to less charitable interpretation by Albion fans), he prospered as Brighton mysteriously gave Chelsea all the time in the world on the ball in the first half, and only really woke up to the possibility of launching a few attacks in the second.
The 2-1 win was, in the end, tight. Marcos Alonso might have seen red for pulling an opponent down, and the four minutes of stoppage time added by ref Stuart Attwell seemed to drag on forever, even with keeper Kepa taking a yellow card for dilly-dallying on his goalkicks to try to wind the clock down.
Another victory builds on the Blues’ still-remarkable result against Man City, with Hazard creating the first goal in the 17th minute. He weaved through the Seagulls’ defence, then set up Pedro to slot home.
The team was unchanged from the City win, with Pedro, Willian and Hazard up front in a changing, tricky-to-defend fluid line.
It was 2-0 at half-time, Hazard scoring a fine individual breakaway goal in the 33rd minute, ending up one-on-one with Brighton keeper Mat Ryan and feeding the ball home effortlessly after a loose pass by Leon Balogun was cut out by Willian.
The game was played at jogging pace for the first half, with Brighton provoking groans from their fans for the number of sloppy passes intercepted, and by an apparent reluctance to test Kepa.
The home team woke up a bit in the second, with Solly March clawing a goal back to increase the tension for the final 25 minutes.
Next up for the Blues, Bournemouth at home in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday night.