Eden Hazard matched his best single-season tally for Chelsea on Monday night with a superb opener in a 2-0 win over West Ham.
The Belgian’s 19th goal in all competitions this season was a reminder of what Chelsea might be missing next campaign as Real Madrid eye a summer move for his signature.
Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at five of his best goals to see if Hazard was right when he claimed Monday’s effort was in his top three for the club.
1. Away to Liverpool, May 11, 2016
It is not often the Anfield Kop feels compelled to applaud goals scored by visiting players, but many could not help themselves after Hazard’s brilliant 32nd-minute opener against Liverpool.
Hazard had not enjoyed the best season, battling fitness problems as Chelsea fought their way to ninth place in the Premier League after the early-season departure of Jose Mourinho.
But he issued a reminder of his world-class talent late in the campaign as he slalomed his way beyond the challenges of four Liverpool players before picking his spot beyond the reach of Simon Mignolet and into the far corner.
2. Away to Stoke, January 12, 2013
Almost every entry in this list saw Hazard weave his way through a forest of defenders before placing the ball in the corner of the net – and for good reason.
But to show he has more than one (very good) trick to his name, Hazard scored a stunner from range at the Britannia back in 2013. Picking the ball up just inside the Stoke half, he wrong-footed Glenn Whelan with the greatest of ease before firing into the top corner of the goal from 30 yards.
3. At home to West Ham, April 8, 2019
Go on then, Eden. We’ll let you put this in the top three if you like. Hazard’s brace fired Chelsea up to third with a 2-0 win over West Ham, but the night will be remembered for his brilliant opener.
Hazard picked the ball up barely 10 metres inside the West Ham half and scythed his way past half of the Hammers outfield with apparent ease, breaking through gaps which did not appear to be there, before rolling the ball home. Brilliant stuff.
4. At home to Arsenal, February 4, 2017
A goal out of the Hazard textbook of mazey runs. With Chelsea on course for the title under Antonio Conte, they underlined their superiority over an Arsenal side third in the table with another moment of brilliance he made look somehow routine to him.
Four Arsenal players bounced off, the referee waving play on as Francis Coquelin fouled him, as Hazard raced from just inside his own half to the edge of the goal area where, with defenders and goalkeeper converging, he slipped his shot beyond Petr Cech.
5. Away to Liverpool, September 26, 2018
Sorry Liverpool, you’re on the wrong end of another one. Jurgen Klopp’s men have lost only once at Anfield this season in all competitions, but there could be few arguments about the brilliance of the winning goal when they faced Chelsea in the Carabao Cup back in September.
Hazard had already beaten Jordan Henderson and Fabinho when he pulled out a nutmeg on Roberto Firmino. He then played a quick one-two with Cesar Azpilicueta before racing beyond the reach of Naby Keita and Alberto Moreno to hit a rocket beyond Mignolet from a tight angle.
With only five minutes left, Liverpool scarcely had time to lift their jaws off the floor, let alone respond, as Chelsea won 2-1.
Callum Hudson-Odoi has revealed even Eden Hazard’s team-mates were stunned by the Belgian’s wonder goal against West Ham.
The 18-year-old admitted he watched on in awe as Hazard slalomed past five Hammers defenders before slotting home at Stamford Bridge on Monday.
Hazard matched his best-ever single season tally of 19 goals in all competitions for Chelsea on Monday, notching twice in the Blues’ 2-0 Premier League victory.
And Hudson-Odoi conceded Real Madrid target Hazard is so good that sometimes even his colleagues have to stand back and watch.
“All I can say is that I watched the whole thing with my mouth wide open,” said Hudson-Odoi.
“He’s an exceptional player, though, and I do expect things like that from him. I just watch and learn from him in training, and then in games. Watching someone like that, he is a superb role model to look up to.”
Chelsea are the first side in this season's Premier League to have three players complete 5+ take-ons in a single game:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 8, 2019
• Eden Hazard (8)
• Callum Hudson-Odoi (6)
• Ruben Loftus-Cheek (5)
A fearless trio. 💃 pic.twitter.com/xuH9A99sMi
Chelsea moved third in the table with Monday’s West Ham victory, edging ahead of London and Champions League qualification rivals Tottenham and Arsenal.
Spurs and the Gunners have a game in hand over the Blues however, leaving Hudson-Odoi acutely aware of the importance of Monday’s win.
“The three points were absolutely crucial,” the England international told Chelsea TV.
“A couple of other teams dropped points so we needed to get the result, and we did and we did it in the right manner as well.
“Our mentality was strong, we worked hard throughout the game, and we had to stay patient because they stayed very compact.
“So we just had to keep working, and getting our way through and trying to keep moving the ball, and I felt we did that well.”
Hazard’s spectacular performance against West Ham will only have boosted Real Madrid’s resolve to prise the 28-year-old away from Stamford Bridge.
The Belgium star’s Chelsea contract expires next summer and head coach Maurizio Sarri has said the Blues must respect Hazard’s decision on which club he will represent next season.
Hazard himself remains adamant he will delay that decision until the end of the campaign, while he also moved to downplay the significance of personal milestones.
The live-wire forward could hit 20 goals in a single season for the first time for Chelsea, but rejected the significance.
“My target is not to score goals, I just want to win games,” said Hazard.
“I scored twice and I’m happy but what’s important is for me to win games, that’s it.”
Hazard has made no secret of enjoying his partnership with France striker Olivier Giroud at Chelsea, but also revealed he and loan signing Gonzalo Higuain are also beginning to click.
“We’re starting to understand each other,” said Hazard.
“It’s not easy, he’s only playing here two or three months. He’s a great player. He’s involved in the game, he can come deep, go forward.
“The relationship is getting better. We have five games to play now, plus Europa League, so I hope this relationship can move forward.”
Manuel Pellegrini admitted West Ham paid the price for a lacklustre first half showing in west London.
“If we lose by playing the way we played in the second-half for the whole game, we have no complaints,” said Pellegrini.
“You must show which team you are. We did that in the second-half, and had chances to draw the game.”
Maurizio Sarri believes Chelsea cannot afford to lose Eden Hazard.
Hazard’s first-half wonder goal set Chelsea en route to a 2-0 Premier League win over West Ham at Stamford Bridge, with the Belgium star also bagging a late second.
West Ham’s fans taunted Chelsea by singing “He’s off to Madrid”, with the Blues’ board apparently holding out for £100million from Real to complete a transfer this summer.
Hazard’s contract expires next year, and while the 28-year-old claims he is undecided on his long-term future, Chelsea boss Sarri feels the Blues must continue to fight to retain their prize asset.
Asked if Chelsea can afford to lose Hazard, Sarri replied: “From the technical point of view, no, not at the moment.
“It’s impossible to find another Hazard; at the moment there isn’t another Hazard. The level is so high. In the world you can’t find another player like that.
“So I hope that Hazard can stay here, otherwise we have to try something different.”
In the 24th minute, Hazard scored a goal of the rarest quality as he waltzed his past five West Ham players before drilling Chelsea into the lead in west London.
The former Lille playmaker then buried a second at the death as Chelsea stepped up to third in the Premier League table, although playing a game more than Champions League qualification rivals Tottenham and Arsenal.
Chelsea head coach Sarri is convinced the Blues are doing all they can to hold onto Hazard, however, he did concede the player himself will have the final say on his destination.
“I am sure the club doesn’t want to sell him,” Sarri said. “”But of course we all have to respect his decision.
“He’s in the last season of his contract. If he wants to have another experience we have to respect it but we will try in any way to convince him. But it’s not easy.”
When asked if Hazard has told him he wants to leave, Sarri added: “No. He told me that he has to decide.”
Hazard has now equalled his best goals tally for a single season for Chelsea, scoring 19 in all competitions. After branding his stunning opener “special”, Hazard insisted he still has not made a decision over whether to join Real Madrid.
“They are wrong! I am focused on Chelsea until the end of the season,” Hazard told Sky Sports, when asked about the Hammers’ fans claiming he would head to Real this summer.
“I want to finish in the top four and in the Europa League. We still have a lot to do, and then we will see.”
Provided by Press Association Sport