Eden Hazard 10/10 as Chelsea thrash Cardiff to remain perfect
Chelsea maintained their 100 percent record with a 4-1 win over Cardiff City at Stamford Bridge.
An entertaining encounter was helped by Cardiff refusing to park the bus and their positivity was rewarded with them taking the lead through Sol Bamba via a well-executed set-piece. That opening goal sparked the hosts into action, who forced Neil Etheridge into two good saves in the minutes that followed. Chelsea eventually levelled on 37 minutes when Eden Hazard;s crisp low drive slipped inside the far post and the Belgium international then finished from close range seven minutes later to make it 2-1 at half time.
The visitors continued to show ambition without troubling Kepa Arrizabalaga and were finally put to bed when Hazard completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot after Willian was brought down. Willian then capped a fun afternoon with a sumptuous curling shot into the top corner.
Hazard's sensational World Cup form has continued into this season and when he plays well, the whole team sparkles. The patience shown when the game was tight was also commendable with no histrionics after falling behind, just an increase in tempo to get back into the game.
The ease with which Cardiff scored a simple (albeit well-worked) free kick was concerning and adds to existing questions over the defensive strength of this team. The game could also have been put to bed much earlier had good chances been taken, though that might be harsh given what was ultimately a good team display.
Manager rating out of 10
8 -- Made the decision to pick Olivier Giroud ahead of Alvaro Morata and was proved correct as the France international shone. His substitutions were also spot on with Ross Barkley impressing after coming on and Willian winning a penalty and scoring a wonderful goal.
Player ratings (1-10, 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Kepa Arrizabalaga, 7 -- Commanded his area well with a couple of excellent punches that stamped his authority. Only had one real save to make when he clawed away a decent header in injury time.
DF Cesar Azpilicueta, 7 - Solid as ever as he reacquainted himself with the right-back position. Could arguably have done more with the ball when getting forward.
DF David Luiz, 7 -- Had a few defensive headaches against the impressive Danny Ward who consistently beat him in the air. Made up for it with a vital defensive header from a corner late in the first half.
DF Antonio Rudiger, 7 -- Relatively untroubled though used his pace to cover any potential dangers. Made one rampaging forward run that almost resulted in a goal.
DF Marcos Alonso, 7 -- Not involved in any of the goals for a change but still oozed class whenever he was on the ball. Played one particularly delicious ball to Hazard that unfortunately came to nothing.
MF N'Golo Kante, 7 -- The usual dominant midfield display. Nipped then all away at will and made himself a nuisance without having to do anything dramatic.
MF Jorginho, 7 -- Kept everything neat and tidy while making it all look so easy. Was happy to fill in at the back whenever Luiz or Rudiger forayed forward.
MF Mateo Kovacic, 8 -- A delight to watch, he was as influential as Hazard while he was on the pitch. Better finishing would have seen him score twice but his all-round play was dazzling.
FW Pedro Rodriguez, 7 -- Try as he might, he just couldn't get on the scoresheet despite going close on at least three occasions. Continued his bright start to the season.
FW Eden Hazard, 10 -- The Belgian is currently playing the game on a different planet to everyone else. His hat-trick showcased his rounded game with an excellent early shot, close range cutting edge and penalty spot ruthlessness. Magnificent.
FW Olivier Giroud, 8 -- Took his opportunity perfectly. He laid on two assists and continued his telepathic relationship with Hazard while keeping his game simple and efficient.
MF Ross Barkley, 8 -- Came on for Kovacic and ensured the level didn't drop with a very impressive outing.
FW Willian, 8 -- Won a penalty, scored a beauty. Enough said.
FW Davide Zappacosta, NR -- Brought on in an unfamiliar attacking role he might have scored only to slice his shot wide