Belfast Telegraph

Chelsea's homegrown talent Hudson-Odoi responds to the challenge for Sarri's men

Chelsea 3 Brighton & Hove Albion 0

Control: Callum Hudson-Odoi holds off Solly March
Control: Callum Hudson-Odoi holds off Solly March

By Nick Purewal

Callum Hudson-Odoi toasted his full Premier League debut by sparking Chelsea's 3-0 Stamford Bridge rout of Brighton.

The 18-year-old celebrated his full league bow by serving the opening goal on a plate for Olivier Giroud, before Eden Hazard and Ruben Loftus-Cheek dispatched eye-catching second-half strikes.

Hazard's 14th league goal of the campaign and Loftus-Cheek's eighth in all competitions pushed Chelsea above Manchester United into fifth place, but one point off Tottenham in third.

Chelsea's hefty win might now convince boss Maurizio Sarri to let homegrown talents Hudson-Odoi and Loftus-Cheek loose in the bid for both a top-four league finish and Europa League glory.

Hudson-Odoi said: "I am very happy for the win and we all worked hard. We had to get rhythm and bounced back well. Today we got told the team and had to prepare mentally. The manager told me to go and express myself. I feel comfortable, hopefully I did well."

Loftus-Cheek added: "We have both worked all of our lives for this chance, years of hard work and now we start in a Premier League game together."

Brighton defender Shane Duffy accepts his side were outclassed by the Blues.

"We had a game plan which worked for periods, it's hard to take and they have real quality," he said.

"We have talked about this game all week, this is more important than the semi-final but it was always going to be difficult. It's more important to stay in the league but we got undone by quality."

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