You had to feel for the Brighton defence up against Eden Hazard today
There was simply no stopping the Belgian at the Amex.
Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk have forged an impressive partnership at the heart of Brighton's defence in the Seagulls' first Premier League season, but they were brought to their knees by a merciless, Eden Hazard-inspired Chelsea on Saturday afternoon.
Antonio Conte's champions have struggled in front of goal since the turn of the year but there were no such problems here during a comfortable 4-0 victory. Hazard struck twice, while Willian and Victor Moses also found the net as the Blues moved level on points with second-placed Manchester United in the table.
With no Alvaro Morata and Cesc Fabregas, Hazard duly took centre stage as he gleefully tore through the Brighton defence time and time again, leaving a string of bodies in his wake, unsurprisingly scooping the Man of the Match award for his efforts.
Man of the Match, @hazardeden10
2 goals from 2 shots on target
3 chances created
92 touches (game high)
5th time in 6 seasons at @ChelseaFC that he has scored 10+ goals (all comps) pic.twitter.com/F4TSTwxJt3
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) January 20, 2018
The 26-year-old got Chelsea off to a flyer, lashing home from inside the box after a deflected cross fortuitously ended up at his feet. Hazard also had a central role in his side's sumptuous second.
It started with Willian poking the ball forward to Hazard, who helped it on first-time to Michy Batshuayi. The striker immediately gave it back to Willian, who found Hazard before making a dash into the area. Hazard flicked it to his compatriot Batshuayi, who then cleverly back-heeled the ball into Willian's path for the Brazilian to rifle home into the top corner and complete one of the most fluid moves you'll see this season.
It was majestic stuff play from the visitors, and to which the Brighton defence simply had no answer.
The image below, which shows the fallen duo of Duffy and Dunk after Hazard's second, pretty much sums up their afternoon.
Then, with 13 minutes remaining, Hazard put the result beyond their hosts, scoring a gem of an individual goal to make it three. A replay showed that a foul throw taken by Davide Zappacosta meant that it shouldn't have counted, so Brighton will justly feel aggrieved.
There was nothing wrong with the fourth, though, Moses plucking Charly Musonda's long ball down and firing past Mat Ryan to seal three precious points and give Chelsea's season a much-needed shot of adrenaline.
It was a stellar team performance but, not for the first time, Hazard was the stand-out performer. Just look at his stats below, Duffy and Dunk never stood a chance. Then again, when Hazard is in the mood, not many do.
Eden Hazard's game by numbers vs. Brighton:
51 (80%) passes completed
8 take-ons completed
3 chances created
Scary stuff. pic.twitter.com/CU92oiL7PH
— Squawka (@Squawka) January 20, 2018