Chelsea returned to winning ways with a comfortable 3-1 victory over Huddersfield at the John Smith’s Stadium on Tuesday.
Chelsea dominated the first half, and went into the break 2-0 up after Tiemoue Bakayoko’s neat finish (23) and Willian’s back-post header (43).
Pedro made it 3-0 with an effort from 15 yards (50) after the break, and Huddersfield got a consolation in injury time through sub Laurent Depoitre’s superb header past Thibaut Courtois (90+2)
Chelsea went without a recognised striker, with Pedro replacing the injured Morata. Cahill, Zappacosta and Fabregas also made way for Rudiger, Willian and Moses. For Huddersfield, Williams came in to replace Quaner.
The result means Chelsea are 11 points behind leaders Man City, who play at Swansea on Wednesday evening. Huddersfield are 12th, five clear of the drop zone.
Chelsea, coming off the back of a shock 1-0 defeat at West Ham, had all of the ball in the first half, and were ahead midway through as man-of-the-match Eden Hazard’s delightful flick found Willian, who fed Bakayoko to lift over Jonas Lossl.
It was 2-0 two minutes before the break through Willian, who headed home at the far post from Marcos Alonso’s deep cross after Huddersfield defender Chris Lowe got caught under the ball.
Huddersfield: Lossl (5), Smith (5), Zanka (5), Schindler (5), Lowe (4), Mooy (5), Hogg (4), Kachunga (5), Williams (5), Ince (5), Mounie (5)
Subs: Whitehead (5), Hadergjonaj (5), Depoitre (6)
Chelsea: Courtois (7), Moses (6), Azpilicueta (7), Rudiger (6), Christensen (6), Alonso (7), Bakayoko (7), Kante (7), Willian (8), Hazard (9), Pedro (7)
Subs: Batshuayi (6), Drinkwater (6), Ampadu (NA)
Man of the match: Eden Hazard
It should have been 3-0 on the brink of half time, but Lossl did well to deny Pedro, who had been released through on goal by Hazard.
But Chelsea did get their third after the break, with Pedro directing the ball into the top corner from 12 yards after Willian had battled to win the ball from a cross.
Chelsea goalkeeper Courtois had little to do, but did get the slightest touch on Tom Ince’s effort inside the box, before Pedro dragged wide from just inside the box after the impressive Hazard had laid the ball off.
Courtois lost his clean sheet with the final meaningful touch of the game, seeing sub Depoitre’s superb header fly past him and into the corner of the net from Florent Hadergjonaj’s cross.
- Chelsea’s win at the John Smith’s Stadium means the Blues have won at 50 different stadiums in the Premier League; only Liverpool have won at more stadiums in the competition (53).
- Huddersfield have lost five of their last six Premier League games (W1), conceding two or more in all five of those losses.
- Chelsea have scored 10 headed goals in the Premier League this season (a league high) – they only scored eight in the entirety of last season.
- Marcos Alonso has had a hand in 13 goals since his Chelsea debut (nine goals, four assists); two more than any other Premier League defender.
David Wagner: “They didn’t need to invest much into the first goal, it was a goal that we gave away, and the same with the second, we gave two easy goals away.
“They were good, no doubt about it, the bigger problem is we haven’t over-performed. I think we performed on an average level, we didn’t under-perform, but we didn’t over-perform.”
Antonio Conte: “When you have a competitor like City and every game they are winning, it is very difficult to think you can fight for the title.
“We must be realistic and tell the truth. I prefer to tell the truth than a good lie. I am like this and sometimes I can be too honest but I like to speak very honestly with my players and with our fans also.”
Man of the match – Eden Hazard
This was Hazard at his very best, but more notably, at his unselfish best. So unselfish in fact, that he insisted Willian took his man of the match award after the game.
Fantasy Football players would be forgiven for suspecting Hazard had captained his team-mate Willian this game week, such was the frequency in which the Belgian found his team-mate in the final third.
Hazard’s flick opened up space for the opening goal for Bakayoko, and he continued the trick throughout the game, with Huddersfield struggling to cope with his turn of pace.
Willian ended up with a goal and two assists, but Hazard was the star of the show off paper, also winning eight of his 10 tackles, more than any other Chelsea player.
Chelsea now host Southampton on Saturday at 3pm, before their Carabao Cup quarter-final against Bournemouth on Wednesday. Huddersfield go to Watford on Saturday in the Premier League.