Hazard sends Chelsea top as City stay apace


Soccer Football - Premier League - Chelsea v Cardiff City - Stamford Bridge, London, Britain ...
Soccer Football - Premier League - Chelsea v Cardiff City - Stamford Bridge, London, Britain - September 15, 2018 Chelsea's Eden Hazard celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

In Summary

  • A hat-trick from Belgian magician Eden Hazard ensured Chelsea kept their 100 percent record this season with a 4-1 win over promoted Cardiff City that sent the Londoners to the top of the Premier League on Saturday
  • Chelsea, who have won their first five games of the season, were stunned when an unmarked Sol Bamba flicked home to put Cardiff ahead in the 16th minute, but Hazard replied twice before halftime as the home side upped the tempo

A hat-trick from Belgian magician Eden Hazard ensured Chelsea kept their 100 percent record this season with a 4-1 win over promoted Cardiff City that sent the Londoners to the top of the Premier League on Saturday.

Chelsea, who have won their first five games of the season, were stunned when an unmarked Sol Bamba flicked home to put Cardiff ahead in the 16th minute, but Hazard replied twice before halftime as the home side upped the tempo.

He hit the bottom corner after dancing round two defenders to shoot low in the 37th minute, then latched on to another Olivier Giroud layoff with the Frenchman at full stretch in the 44th.

The Belgian scored a cool penalty in the 81st minute after Bamba brought down Willian in the area. Willian rounded off a satisfying afternoon for the London side, who moved top on goal difference, with a dipping shot from outside the area.

In Manchester, champions City looked close to their sparkling best as they comfortably beat promoted Fulham 3-0 at the Etihad Stadium to stay within two points of early leaders Liverpool and Chelsea.

German Leroy Sane, recalled after being left out of the squad against Newcastle, scored inside two minutes with a close-range finish after Fernandinho capitalised on some sloppy passing from the visitors.

Fulham had, in contrast to many visitors to the Etihad, arrived with a clear intention to take the game to City but after that early setback the task was beyond Slavisa Jokanovic’s side.

David Silva made it 2-0 when his powerful shot crashed in off the underside of the crossbar after excellent work from the outstanding Portuguese midfielder Bernardo Silva.

With his ability to jiggle out of tight situations, his sharp turns, his deft touches and clever passes, Bernardo put on a showcase of his quality.

At times last season, Bernardo appeared to be on the fringes of Pep Guardiola’s revolution, but in his second season since his move from AS Monaco his class is abundantly evident and the coach said he was delighted.

“It is almost impossible to be more pleased as a manager with him. He deserves to play all the minutes he plays,” said Guardiola, adding that Bernardo’s attitude was exemplary during the periods when he was restricted to the bench.

“I don’t forget the behaviour he has last season. He is an example. Last season I said if I stay here, this guy will stay here because he is special,” added the City manager.

With Kevin De Bruyne sidelined by a knee injury, Bernardo has been asked to play in a more central role and he looks comfortable with the adjustment.

“He can play three, four, five positions but he deserves all my respect,” added Guardiola.

Raheem Sterling made it 3-0 with the most straightforward of tap-ins after Sergio Aguero had finished off a fine passing move with a burst down the right and a low cross.

There could have been many more goals but while they opened up Fulham with some ease, City were unable to fully punish the London side.

“3-0 is a good result but we create a lot of chances to score five, six, seven goals so we have to be more clinical, because goal difference is important,” said Guardiola.

City begin their Champions League campaign against Olympique Lyon at the Etihad on Wednesday.

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