Chelsea are now Eden in the right direction
Chelsea 2 West Ham 0
Eden Hazard said he produced "something special" to fire Chelsea into third place in the Premier League after scoring both goals in a 2-0 victory over West Ham at Stamford Bridge last night.
Hazard showed the Chelsea fans what they might be missing next year with a virtuoso opener and late second in the sort of display that could convince Real Madrid to meet Chelsea's reported £100million asking price.
The 28-year-old's current Chelsea deal expires next summer and Madrid are reported to be closing in on his signature, although not without matching the Stamford Bridge hierarchy's valuation. Hazard moved to 19 goals in all competitions as he eyes the 20 mark for the first time at Chelsea. His 16 league goals leave him top of the pile for combined finishes and assists, with 28.
By the time Hazard applied the finish to his stunning opener, he had ghosted past Declan Rice and Mark Noble, and flummoxed Fabian Balbuena, Angelo Ogbonna and Ryan Fredericks.
"It was something special," he said. "I took the ball and then I tried to move forward. In the box it was hard for the defender to challenge me because if he touches me it could be a penalty," Hazard said.
"I was maybe a little lucky with the shot. I wanted to shoot quickly. When I saw the ball in the net I was just so happy.
"I am small so it is good when I play against tall players as it's very hard for them to change direction."
Maurizio Sarri's men moved two points ahead of fourth-placed Tottenham and three above Arsenal in fifth, albeit having played one more game than their Champions League qualification rivals.
Hazard added: "I think we played well. The game was not easy because West Ham are a great team. They created a bit of problems for us.
"But we did everything. We created a lot and scored two great goals.
"We are in good momentum. We have won three in a row.
"For the mentality, it is good to keep going. Top four and the Europa League is our target so we need to do well in both but we can do it."
Regarding the rumours of a move to Madrid, Hazard added: "They are wrong. For now I am just focusing on Chelsea until the end of the season. I want to finish top four and Europa League, we still have a lot to do and then we will see."
N'Golo Kante drilled over from 20 yards early on, then flicked inside for Cesar Azpilicueta, only for a heavy touch to deny the captain a shot on goal.
But with the appetisers cleared away, Hazard dished up the sumptuous main course.
Collecting the ball 10 yards inside the West Ham half, he proceeded to elude half of the Hammers' outfield players before rolling home the finish for a goal to grace any stage.
His magical night continued, the Belgium star outfoxing three defenders on the turn before whipping across a fine far-post ball to Callum Hudson-Odoi.
The England international saw a rasping shot blocked.
West Ham rallied after the break, Kepa Arrizabalaga saving well from Manuel Lanzini and then Felipe Anderson.
Aaron Cresswell drilled just wide after Antonio Rudiger's tame header in another West Ham warning.
Olivier Giroud snatched at a chance too, but then Hazard again showed his team-mates how to finish, book-ending a night that had belonged to him from start to finish.
CHELSEA: Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Rudiger, David Luiz, Emerson, Kante, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek (Barkley, 70 mins), Hudson-Odoi (Pedro, 85 mins), Higuain (Giroud, 76 mins), Hazard
Unused subs: Caballero, Kovacic, Christensen, Willian
WEST HAM: Fabianski, Fredericks, Balbuena, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Rice, Noble (Obiang, 70 mins), Arnautovic, Lanzini, Felipe Anderson, Hernandez (Snodgrass, 45 mins)
Unused subs: Adrian, Nasri, Diop, Masuaku, Perez
Referee: Chris Kavanagh