Chelsea had Eden Hazard to thank after his three goals gave Chelsea all three points and, significantly, caused a seismic shift at the top of the table.
The Blues’ win here, coupled with Arsenal’s heavy loss and Manchester City dropping two valuable points, means that the top three have all swapped position in a morning’s work, with each side separated by just the one point.
It is shaping up for an astonishing finale and whilst Chelsea may not have known so much about the Manchester City score-line as they were playing simultaneously, knowing Arsenal lost and there was a chance to at least leap-frog them provided just the incentive Chelsea needed.
And even if the strikers continue to struggle, who can complain when Hazard scores the goals, going off to a rapturous home crowd in the 85th minute.
But what an 85 minutes he had on the field. All it needed was 23 minutes on the clock for Hazard to score his first, opening the play out wide, carrying his run into the box and meeting Ivanovic’s low drive with a first-time, crisp strike that settled in Krul’s far post.
Seven minutes later came his, and Chelsea’s second. Newcastle’s play broke down and Willian was the driving force in the counter-attack. His pass to Hazard on the left let the Belgian loose, and when in the box, the 23-year-old combined with Eto’o before, in one stride, gliding the ball past Krul for a fabulous team goal.
It was just 36 minutes from his first to his third as Eden Hazard wrapped up his hat-trick soon after the re-start. If the second goal demonstrated strong team play, the third again provided us an insight into the immense team cohesion. Lampard, who has not scored in 2014, nobly presented the opportunity to Hazard to complete his hat-trick, and the winger calmed rolled the ball into the net.
There was time for Salah to make his debut and the Egyptian easily could have scored two himself, but the points were wrapped up and the little horse sends out a strong statement to title rivals Arsenal and Manchester City.
Man of the Match
EDEN HAZARD: It is hard to argue with the fact that Eden Hazard is probably one of the most in-form players in the Premier League currently. He may not score and assist in every match, but he always terrorises defenders and got his just rewards today with three emphatic and convincing goals.
One has to commend Chelsea’s back-line too because Newcastle had some opportunities — Gary Cahill continues to throw himself at every Newcastle attack — but it would be hard to not give my Man of the Match to hat-trick hero Hazard. 9/10
Jose Mourinho was not getting carried away with the fact his side are now league leaders: “I know today we are top of the league but I look to fifth place. I want to be far from fifth. When we are far from fifth and have a Champions League position under control, then it will be time to look at Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool and see where they are and see the distances.”
Hazard was complimentary of Mourinho and match-winner Hazard: “I’ve played against Mourinho teams a number of times, and I think this is as good as he’s had. Their work rate today was phenomenal, I thought, for a team with technical ability. Hazard’s at the top of his game. His work rate and everything about him today was excellent.”