#Live: Hazard hits brace as Chelsea truimph over Westham in London derby, leapfrog Arsenal to 3rd EPL spot




Chelsea fans must cherish every last minute of Eden Hazard’s remaining time at Stamford Bridge.

Because they will not see a player of his brilliance in the famous blue shirt for a very long time.

The Belgian playmaker destroyed sorry West Ham with a mesmerising show of quick feet and astonishing technique.

His two goals lifted Maurizio Sarri’s team up to third place in the Premier League and back on course for Champions League qualification.

Yet even a return to Europe’s top competition is unlikely to persuade him to stay in London now that he has Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane leading his fan club.

Bewildered Hammers boss Manuel Pellegrini would willingly drive Hazard all the way to the Bernabeu after watching his team taken apart by the 28-year-old playmaker.

There were times when the ball appeared to be tied to his left boot by a piece of string as he drove his opponents to distraction.

The warning signs were there right from the off when it required a cynical trip by Angelo Ogbonna to stop Hazard as he raced in on goal.

Sarri was convinced it was a foul which deserved more than the yellow card brandished by referee Chris Kavanagh and his mood was not improved when Ruben Loftus-Cheek failed to hit the target from the free-kick.

Yet the booking clearly placed a seed of doubt in the mind of Ogbonna, who was then turned with embarrassing ease by N’Golo Kante for a rising shot which just cleared the bar.

Chelsea were now coming at the overrun Hammers from all angles and only a last-ditch challenge from Fabian Balbuena halted Cesar Azpilicueta’s charge into the box midway through the first-half.

But it was only a matter of time before Chelsea found a way through and it was no surprise that it was Hazard who should be the architect of the breakthrough.

There appeared to be little threat when the little maestro received a 24th minute pass just inside the West Ham half with just about every opponent behind the ball.

But within the blink of an eye he had spun away from both Mark Noble and Declan Rice and was haring in on goal.

Balbuena, Ogbonna and Ryan Fredericks were still barring his way but the entire West Ham defence were no match for Hazard as he slalomed his way through to beat Lukas Fabianski.

It was as good a goal as any of the 108 he has now scored during his seven seasons in England and one which underlined just how much of a loss he will be if does leave for Madrid this summer.

The Spanish giants are ready to fork out £85million to get Hazard to the Barnebeu but Chelsea will demand in excess of £100million despite the fact that he has little more than a year of his contract to run.

Yet even that eye-watering valuation does not seem excessive for a player who has consistently set new standards of excellence for Chelsea.

He should have had a penalty five minutes later when he was floored by a blatant barge from Marko Arnautovic but Kavanagh took pity on the outclassed visitors and waved Hazard’s appeals away.

Another swerving run and pinpoint cross picked out Callum Hudson-Odoi for a shooting opportunity but the teenager hesitated before pulling the trigger and the chance was lost.

Gonzalo Higuain brought a sharp save from Lukasz Fabianski and had another shot blocked by Aaron Cresswell as Chelsea moved through the gears.

But their failure to cash in on their dominance left the door open to an unlikely West Ham comeback.

Manuel Lanzini’s 54th shot demanded an excellent flying save from Kepa and Cresswell was inches away with a speculative first-time effort.

Suddenly Sarri could sense the tide was turning but his decision to replace Loftus-Cheek with Ross Barkley was met with loud boos from the Chelsea fans.

But the change did the trick and it was Barkley’s 89th minute cross which left Hazard with the time and space to calmly steer his shot beyond Fabianski to seal the victory.

There are now a maximum of four games left at Stamford Bridge before Hazard sits down to weigh up next move.

Chelsea fans should be, steal or borrow to get a ticket for the Belgian’s farewell tour.




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