English Premiership

Chelsea move to top of Premier League

2018-09-15 18:18
Eden Hazard
Eden Hazard (Getty Images)

London - Eden Hazard scored a hat-trick as Chelsea continued their perfect start under Maurizio Sarri to move top of the Premier League with a 4-1 win over Cardiff at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Sol Bamba's opener shocked Sarri's men into life, but the Belgian was too hot for Cardiff to handle with a quickfire double just before half-time.

Hazard completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot before Willian's stunning strike completed the rout seven minutes from time.

Victory moves Chelsea above Liverpool on goal difference at the top of the table, whilst Cardiff remain without a win on their return to the top flight.

Sarri becomes just the fourth manager to win his first five Premier League games, and, while there appeared plenty to frustrate the Italian as he bounced around on the touchline, the hosts had far too much quality for the visitors.

Cardiff had picked up just two points in 0-0 draws with a man advantage against Newcastle and Huddersfield prior to their visit to the capital.

But they had already shown a threat from set-pieces when Bamba headed just wide from a corner before taking the lead.

Chelsea didn't heed that warning as a well-worked Joe Ralls free-kick was headed across goal by Sean Morrison and bundled in at the back post by Bamba.

The hosts nearly hit back immediately and in some style as backheels from Pedro Rodriguez and Olivier Giroud sent Mateo Kovavic clear on goal, but the Croatian was denied his first Chelsea goal by a fine save from Neil Etheridge.

Chelsea's left flank was a constant threat as Hazard dovetailed with the rampaging Marcos Alonso from left-back.

However, it was when Hazard moved momentarily to the right that the hosts levelled when he dummied a ball into the path of Giroud and then fired the Frenchman's return pass low into the far corner.

Sarri hailed Alonso as arguably the world's best left-back after the Spaniard was involved in both goals in a 2-0 win over Bournemouth last time out.

And Alonso started the move for Chelsea's second as he played in Pedro and his cross was expertly steered by Giroud in Hazard's path to score via a deflection.

Having got in front, Chelsea took their foot off the gas at the start of the second-half and could have been made to pay when Ralls and Bobby Reid shot just wide from the edge of the area.

Chelsea rebuffed interest from Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona for Hazard and Willian in the summer.

And that resilience could yet field an unlikely title challenge after finishing 30 points adrift of Manchester City last season as they took the game away from Cardiff in the final 10 minutes.

Chelsea finally had breathing space when Willian was felled inside the area by Bamba and Hazard sent Etheridge the wrong way from the penalty spot.

Moments later Willian produced his own moment of magic with a wonderful curling effort from 20 yards that bent into the top corner.

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Fixtures
Saturday, 22 September 2018
Fulham v Watford, Craven Cottage 13:30
Liverpool v Southampton, Anfield 16:00
Cardiff City v Manchester City, Cardiff City Stadium 16:00
Leicester City v Huddersfield Town, King Power Stadium 16:00
Manchester United v Wolverhampton Wanderers, Old Trafford 16:00
Crystal Palace v Newcastle United, Selhurst Park 16:00
Burnley v AFC Bournemouth, Turf Moor 16:00
Brighton & Hove Albion v Tottenham Hotspur, The American Express Community Stadium 18:30
Sunday, 23 September 2018
West Ham United v Chelsea, London Stadium 14:30
Arsenal v Everton, Emirates Stadium 17:00
Saturday, 29 September 2018
West Ham United v Manchester United, London Stadium 13:30
Arsenal v Watford, Emirates Stadium 16:00
Manchester City v Brighton & Hove Albion, Etihad Stadium 16:00
Everton v Fulham, Goodison Park 16:00
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Southampton, Molineux Stadium 16:00
Newcastle United v Leicester City, St. James' Park 16:00
Huddersfield Town v Tottenham Hotspur, The John Smith's Stadium 16:00
Chelsea v Liverpool, Stamford Bridge 18:30
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