Eden Hazard scored one of the goals of the Premier League season as Chelsea beat West Ham to climb above Tottenham and Arsenal into third spot in the race for a Champions League place.
Hazard, who has been strongly linked with a move to Real Madrid this summer, evaded five players during a stunning run, before the Belgium forward calmly beat keeper Lukasz Fabianski.
He added a late second goal to cap a magnificent individual performance in an entertaining game at Stamford Bridge.
Gonzalo Higuain hit a post, while Hazard was denied a penalty after what looked like a foul by Marko Arnautovic, with Argentine midfielder Manuel Lanzini going closest for West Ham with a shot which was beaten away by Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Chelsea, who can still qualify for next season’s Champions League by winning the Europa League, are three points ahead of fifth-placed Arsenal – who have a game in hand – after a third successive league win.
The Hammers remain 11th after a third defeat in four league games.
Will Hazard be at Chelsea next season?
On a day fresh reports circulated about Hazard moving to Spain’s capital, the 28-year-old produced a breathless performance to show why he is one of Europe’s best forwards.
He was outstanding from start to finish against the West Ham, inspiring his side to an 11th top-flight win at Stamford Bridge this season, and received a standing ovation from Chelsea fans at the final whistle.
In the space of a few first-half minutes, Hazard scored his 15th – and arguably best – league goal of the season, produced a wonderful pass which saw Higuain hit a post, and appeared to be fouled by Austria forward Arnautovic inside West Ham’s penalty area.
To the bewilderment of Hazard and Chelsea, referee Chris Kavanagh waved away the home side’s appeals.
Hazard’s opening goal was beautiful, the Chelsea player receiving the ball just inside the Hammers’ half before using both feet during an unstoppable run which ended with the ball in the net.
His second, a powerful low finish, sealed a deserved win for Maurizio Sarri’s side.
Hazard’s contract expires in the summer of 2020 and Blues fans will hope the club do not cash in on their prize asset after Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane admitted he has “always appreciated” the Chelsea player.
With the London club hit with a Fifa transfer ban preventing them from signing players until the end of January 2020, Chelsea would have to wait to spend any money if they did decide to sell Hazard – though they are appealing against the punishment.
Blues crank up pressure in race for Champions League
It is just over a week since some Chelsea fans called for Sarri’s sacking during a narrow win at struggling Cardiff City.
Since then the Blues have gone on to record clean-sheet victories against Brighton and now West Ham to strengthen their push for a top-four finish.
This was a night when Chelsea turned on the style, with Hazard very much the standout performer.
Callum Hudson-Odoi also sparkled on just his second league start and N’Golo Kante oozed class as the hosts played with confidence and a swagger they have struggled to produce on a consistent basis under Sarri.
With away games at Liverpool and Manchester United to come, the Italian’s side still have work to do in the final five matches to finish in the top four.
However, they can look forward to hosting Champions League games next season if they can maintain the level of performance they produced against London rivals West Ham.
|Race for the Premier League top four|
|15 April Watford (A)||14 April Liverpool (A)||13 April West Ham (H)||13 April Huddersfield (H)|
|21 April Crystal Palace (H)||22 April Burnley (H)||21 April Everton (A)||20 April Manchester City (A)|
|24 April Wolves (A)||24 April Man City (H)||23 April Brighton (H)|
|29 April Leicester (A)||28 April Man Utd (A)||28 April Chelsea (H)||27 April West Ham (H)|
|4 May Brighton (H)||4 May Watford (H)||5 May Huddersfield (A)||6 May Bournemouth (A)|
|12 May Burnley (A)||12 May Leicester (A)||12 May Cardiff (H)||12 May Everton (H)|
Safe but another Hammers defeat
West Ham’s hopes of finishing in the top seven for the second time in four seasons are fading after a ninth away league defeat.
Manuel Pellegrini’s debut season in charge of the Hammers has been a story of inconsistency.
They have produced impressive home wins over Manchester United and Arsenal, but frustrating results away from London Stadium mean they could yet finish the campaign in the bottom half of the table.
They were second best to Chelsea in the first half before improving after the break.
Lanzini, Aaron Cresswell and Arnautovic all went close before Hazard’s second goal ended any hope of a positive result.
West Ham have five games remaining and Pellegrini will want to ensure the season does not fizzle out.
However, with matches at Manchester United and Tottenham, as well as a trip to FA Cup finalists Watford, they face a tough test to turn around their poor away form.
Man of the match – Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
‘Hazard was devastating’ – what they said
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri, speaking to BBC Sport: “In the first half, we were in full control of the match and I was not happy with the result at the end of the half, we could have scored more.
“In the second half, we were in trouble for only 10 minutes but then in the last part of the match we were in control and we deserved to score the second goal.
“In the previous match, Eden Hazard has played really well too. He was devastating. When Hazard can play like this, we are lucky.”
West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini: “We improved a lot in the second half. They scored that second goal finally and the difference was the first half.
“When a player has the quality of Eden Hazard, you know he can make different things. But we could have done better in the way we defended that goal and our play.
“We changed things and we had a chance to draw. I saw the personality in the second half but in the first half, no.”
Hammers goal drought away from home – the stats
- West Ham have scored just one goal in their past seven away Premier League games, a Mark Noble penalty in a 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace.
- Chelsea are unbeaten in their past 13 home league meetings with the Hammers, since a 3-2 loss in September 2002.
- The Blues have lost only one of their past 20 home league matches, a 0-1 defeat by Leicester City in December 2018.
- Eden Hazard has scored 19 goals in all competitions this term – his joint best tally in a season for Chelsea (level with 2014-15).
- Hazard has been directly involved in 11 goals in his past 10 Premier League games at Stamford Bridge (six goals, five assists).
- Ruben Loftus-Cheek has had a hand in four goals in his past three league games for Chelsea (two goals, two assists).
Chelsea are back in action as early as Thursday when they travel to face Slavia Prague in the Europa League quarter-final first leg (20:00 BST kick-off), while West Ham are at Manchester United in the Premier League on Saturday (17:30).
- 1ArrizabalagaBooked at 84mins
- 28AzpilicuetaBooked at 82mins
- 30David Luiz
- 12Loftus-CheekSubstituted forBarkleyat 70′minutes
- 20Hudson-OdoiSubstituted forPedroat 85′minutes
- 9HiguaínSubstituted forGiroudat 76′minutes
- 10E Hazard
- 21OgbonnaBooked at 11mins
- 16NobleSubstituted forObiangat 70′minutes
- 8Felipe Anderson
- 17HernándezSubstituted forSnodgrassat 45′minutes
- Chris Kavanagh
- Shots on Target
Match ends, Chelsea 2, West Ham United 0.
Second Half ends, Chelsea 2, West Ham United 0.
Goal! Chelsea 2, West Ham United 0. Eden Hazard (Chelsea) right footed shot from the right side of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Ross Barkley.
Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Lukasz Fabianski.
Attempt saved. Olivier Giroud (Chelsea) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Ross Barkley.
Substitution, Chelsea. Pedro replaces Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea) is shown the yellow card.
Attempt missed. Fabián Balbuena (West Ham United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high following a corner.
Attempt blocked. Angelo Ogbonna (West Ham United) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Robert Snodgrass with a cross.
Corner, West Ham United. Conceded by Emerson.
Attempt blocked. Marko Arnautovic (West Ham United) header from the right side of the six yard box is blocked. Assisted by Robert Snodgrass with a cross.
César Azpilicueta (Chelsea) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by César Azpilicueta (Chelsea).
Felipe Anderson (West Ham United) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Attempt missed. César Azpilicueta (Chelsea) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Eden Hazard.
Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Aaron Cresswell.
Attempt missed. Ross Barkley (Chelsea) left footed shot from the left side of the six yard box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Attempt missed. Declan Rice (West Ham United) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Felipe Anderson.
Substitution, Chelsea. Olivier Giroud replaces Gonzalo Higuaín.
Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Angelo Ogbonna.
Attempt blocked. David Luiz (Chelsea) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Eden Hazard (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Fabián Balbuena (West Ham United).
Substitution, Chelsea. Ross Barkley replaces Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
Substitution, West Ham United. Pedro Obiang replaces Mark Noble.
Offside, Chelsea. Gonzalo Higuaín tries a through ball, but Callum Hudson-Odoi is caught offside.
Foul by David Luiz (Chelsea).
Manuel Lanzini (West Ham United) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Attempt blocked. Manuel Lanzini (West Ham United) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Felipe Anderson.
Corner, West Ham United. Conceded by Antonio Rüdiger.
Foul by César Azpilicueta (Chelsea).
Felipe Anderson (West Ham United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt saved. Eden Hazard (Chelsea) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Attempt missed. Aaron Cresswell (West Ham United) left footed shot from the left side of the box is close, but misses to the right.
Offside, Chelsea. Kepa Arrizabalaga tries a through ball, but Eden Hazard is caught offside.
Attempt missed. Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Eden Hazard.
Attempt saved. Felipe Anderson (West Ham United) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner.
Attempt saved. Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top right corner. Assisted by Gonzalo Higuaín.
Corner, West Ham United. Conceded by Antonio Rüdiger.
Attempt saved. Manuel Lanzini (West Ham United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Marko Arnautovic.