Eden Hazard scored a brace, as Chelsea beat Manchester City 2-1 at Stamford Bridge to keep their lead at the top of the Premier League table at seven points.
Antonio Conte’s side were without Victor Moses once more, but in his stead Kurt Zouma made his first league start for Chelsea in 14 months, as Cesar Azpilicueta slotted in where the Nigerian right-wing-back would have featured.
It took Chelsea just 16 minutes to open the scoring when, after a nice piece of play, Eden Hazard took on Azpilicueta’s pull-back pass first time and fired it past Willy Caballero in goal. The shot took a slight deflection off of Vincent Kompany, which wrong-footed Caballero, who would perhaps have been expected to save the effort.
Chelsea’s lead didn’t last too long, though, despite their early dominance. In the 26th minute, Manchester City pressed Conte’s side high up the pitch, looking to force an error at the back, and did exactly that when Thibaut Courtois passed the ball out to David Silva.
The Spaniard drove into the penalty area and had a shot on goal, which was saved by Courtois, but the rebound fell fortunately to a grateful Sergio Aguero who buried the opportunity with glee.
Again, the score-line didn’t last very long, when in the 35th minute Chelsea were given a penalty for a trip on Pedro by Fernandinho. Hazard stepped up to take the spot kick against Caballero, who had made saves from Neymar and Radamel Falcao from the same position earlier in the season.
The goalkeeper proceeded to add Hazard to that list, when he stopped his effort, only for the Belgian to slide the loose ball into the back of the net to give Chelsea the lead once more.
Although the score would stay the same, Manchester City came close to scoring on more than one occasion. Their best chance, however, came in the dying seconds of the match when, following a corner, the ball fell John Stones in the six-yard box.
Luckily for Chelsea, the English centre-back shinned the ball well over the crossbar and he sunk to his knees, knowing that would be his side’s last chance.
With eight games to go, Chelsea need 18 points from the remaining 24 to win the league and up next they face Bournemouth, away from home.