- Early goals from Eden Hazard and Willian put Chelsea in control
- Seagulls go close for remainder of first half
- Davy Propper rattles woodwork in second period
- Hazard and Victor Moses score late on to seal victory for the champions
Brighton & Hove Albion fell to a 4-0 defeat to Chelsea at the Amex Stadium on Saturday lunchtime.
Goals from Eden Hazard and Willian in the first few minutes put the visitors in the ascendency, and despite Albion’s spirited efforts to get back into the contest, it was the champions who sealed all three points from a game full of talking points when Hazard added gloss to the scoreline with a second goal in the 77th minute. Midfielder Victor Moses then made it 4-0 in the last minute of normal time.
Chris Hughton made five changes to the side who fell to defeat at West Brom with Ezequiel Schelotto, Markus Suttner, Connor Goldson, Solly March and Tomer Hemed all coming into the team.
The visitors had the first chance of the game when Willian curled a free-kick straight into the arms of Matthew Ryan, before Chelsea took the lead moments later.
Moses’s cross was deflected by Dale Stephens into the path of Eden Hazard, and the Belgian midfielder fired into the net.
The Seagulls then produced a good counter as Schelotto made ground on the right-hand side. The full-back found Davy Propper who laid it out to Solly March, but the midfielder’s cross was snuffed out by the visiting defence before the ball reached the middle.
Chelsea soon doubled their advantage with a superbly worked goalas Willian picked up possession in the middle of the Albion half and exchanged passes with Hazard and Batshuayi before rifling the ball past Ryan in the home goal.
Willy Caballero gathered a low effort from March before flapping at Suttner’s cross with Gross in attendance at the far post, but the midfielder’s chipped delivery was eventually cleared as the hosts responded well to falling 2-0 down so early in the game.
Ryan did well to parry Tiemoue Bakayoko’s low effort away from danger and Propper flicked wide after more hesitant goalkeeping from Caballero from a corner allowed the ball to break free in the area.
Batshuayi then stung the palms of Ryan just before the half hour mark and Caballero was down quickly to thwart Hemed as he headed towards goal from Gross’ stylish cross.
Duffy headed Suttner’s inswinging corner wide of the mark before Hughton’s men had strong shouts for a penalty turned away as Schelotto looked to have been fouled by Bakayoko as he surged the area.
Moses was inches away from meeting Hazard’s cross at the far post moments before the break and it was the Londoners who went into the interval with a two-goal advantage.
Suttner’s dangerous free-kick shortly soon after the restart nearly found the head of Duffy in the centre, before the Seagulls went agonisingly close to halving the deficit.
Gross found Schelotto down the right and as the ball was cutback to the former, Propper crashed his header against the upright as the home side continued to look for a route back into the contest.
Duffy was shown the first yellow card of the game for a foul on Hazard and David Luiz came on in place of Andreas Christensen in the first change of the game, before Willian curled a free-kick against the post as both teams continued to create good opportunites.
Schelotto forced Caballero into another smart stop from close range with 25 minutes left to play, and Albion then made a double switch as Beram Kayal and Glenn Murray were introduced for Gross and Hemed.
Murray was straight into the action as his shot from Kayal’s assist was blocked by Cesar Azpilicueta, and Alonso was replaced David Zappacosta for Chelsea as they made their second switch.
Hazard put the contest beyond doubt with his second goal of the game. Chelsea counter-attacked well and the Hazard weaved his way to the edge of the area before firing past Ryan.
Charly Musonda replaced Willian with ten minutes left to play and March was replaced by Jose Izquierdo as the respective teams made their final changes of the afternoon.
Chelsea wrapped up victory in the final minute when Moses latched onto a ball over the top to beat Ryan with a composed finish. The margin of defeat was harsh on Albion, who contributed much to an entertaining game, but there was no doubting the quality of Chelsea's finishing.
Albion line-up: Ryan; Schelotto, Dunk, ©, Duffy, Goldson, Suttner; Stephens, Propper, Gross (Kayal 68); March (Izquierdo 83), Hemed (Murray 68)
Subs not used: Krul, Huenemeier, Baldock, Rosenior.
Chelsea line-up: Caballero, Rudiger, Alonso (Zappacosta 75), Kante, Hazard, Bakayoko, Moses, Willian (Musonda 80), Batshuayi, Christensen (Luiz 58), Azpilicueta ©.
Subs not used: Eduardo, Barkley, Ampadu, Sterling.
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