Match Report: Eden Hazard leads Chelsea to relieving 1-0 win over Bournemouth
Chelsea returned to Premier League action in an evening kick-off against AFC Bournemouth. The Blues entered the tie as strong favourites amid a poor start to the season from Eddie Howe’s side, and were deservedly victorious at Dean Court tonight. Eden Hazard’s only goal of the game led the Blues to their third successive win in all competitons, as the Blues remain fourth in the Premier League standings.
The game began and ended in the white-shirted visitors’ control. Bournemouth’s defence did well to keep long forward passes over the top clear of former Blue Asmir Begovic’s goal, and were able to cause some major problems to the Chelsea defence through quick counter-attacks.
Chelsea, however, had the better of chances on the first half. Begovic’s wayward pass gifted the Blues a terrific chance, but Alvaro Morata was unable to find the net from seven yards away from goal. His poor luck continued a few minutes later when he tapped the ball in following David Luiz’s saved effort, with Cesar Azpilicueta next to him being called wrongfully offside.
Bournemouth were unable to get on Chelsea’s half after 30 minutes of play, while the Blues’ opener kept coming closer and closer. Morata created himself another chance with a swift turn to his left foot, but Begovic did brilliantly to deny the Spaniard. Cesc Fabregas also was denyed a double-effort just in-front of the goal, leaving Chelsea goalless as the referee blew for half-time.
Chelsea’s pursuit for the opening goal resumed once the teams got back onto the pitch, and it finally paid off on the 53th minute. Morata twisted and turned around Bournemouth defenders in midfield before lobbing a neat ball forward for Hazard on the run, who made no mistake to rifle the ball in from the near post. It was his fifth goal in his fifth appearance against Bournemouth, and it couldn’t have come at a better timing!
Bournemouth were getting the hang of the game at the later stages of the game, but Chelsea were able to calm down the press with smart substitutions. Antonio Conte brought on Danny Drinkwater to replace Pedro, swiching the formation from 3-4-3 to 3-5-2. Michy Batshuayi also replaced Morata on the 79th minute, with the Spaniard now suffering from a five-game goal drought.
Fabregas had a brilliant chance to put the game to bed seven minutes before full-time, but his close-range effort went over the bar from Hazard’s sweet pass. Willian, who scored the winning goal against Everton on Wednesday, replaced the Belgian Man of the Match soon after.
Chelsea’s defence held on tight and the referee blew for the full-time whistle after four additional minutes, granting the Blues an important and relieving victory. Will the Blues be able to keep up their winning run until Boxing Day fixtures like they did last season? It’s to be seen. Next up we have AS Roma away on Tuesday night, and then return for a huge league tie against Manchester United on Sunday evening. COME ON CHELSEA!
Chelsea XI: Courtois; Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Rudiger; Zappacosta, Fabregas, Bakayoko, Alonso; Hazard (off 85′), Morata (off 79′), Pedro (off 79′).
Subs: Caballero, Christensen, Cahill, Ampadu, Drinkwater (on 79′), Willian (on 85′), Batshuayi (on 79′).
Bournemouth XI: Begovic, Francis, Ake, Cook; Smith, Cook, Surman, Dienls; Stanislas (off 63′); Afobe (off 74′), Defoe (off 46′).
Subs: Boruc, Gosling, Arter, Ibe (on 46′), Mousset, Wilson (on 74′), Pugh (on 63′).
Goals: Hazard (51′)
Yellow cards: Smith (59′), Francis (88′)