London, 9 April 2019 (MIA/dpa) – Eden Hazard scored twice – one of them a wonder-goal – as Chelsea beat West Ham 2-0 on Monday to boost their hopes of claiming a Champions League spot.
The Belgian weaved his way through four defenders to score a stunning opener on 24 minutes and sealed victory with a well-taken second in injury time.
The result lifted Chelsea up to third, two points clear of Tottenham and three ahead of Arsenal, though they have played a game more than their two London rivals.
Hazard, heavily linked with a move to Real Madrid this summer, produced another outstanding performance as Chelsea kept their top-four hopes on track.
First his dazzling footwork took him through the West Ham defence to open the scoring with a left-foot finish into the corner on 24 minutes.
Gonzalo Higuain almost added a second goal in the second half but his effort was blocked.
Hazard wrapped things up with the second goal, taking Ross Barkley’s pass in his stride and firing into the net.
Hazard has now been involved in 28 goals for his side this season, more than anyone in the Premier League.
And the forward said that his first goal ranked high among his other efforts over the years.
“It was something special,” he said. “I took the ball and then I tried to move forward. In the box it was hard for the defender to challenge me because if he touches me it could be a penalty.
“I was maybe a little lucky with the shot. I wanted to shoot quickly. When I saw the ball in the net I was just so happy. I am small so it is good when I play against tall players as it’s very hard for them to change direction.”
Hazard dismissed talk of a possible move to Madrid in the summer, saying he was focused only on success for Chelsea this season.
“I want to finish top four and Europa League, we still have a lot to do and then we will see,” he said.
“We are in good momentum. We have won three in a row. For the mentality, it is good to keep going. Top four and the Europa League is our target so we need to do well in both but we can do it.”
Chelsea manager Mauricio Sarri said Hazard was irreplaceable but admitted he would not be able to stop him leaving if that is his choice.
“It is very hard to get another player like him,” he said.
“I cannot do anything I think. The club agrees with me (that they want him to stay). But if Eden Hazard wants to make another experience it is very difficult to keep him here.
“We are trying to improve to become one of the best teams in England and as a consequence in Europe but I think that I have to respect his decision.”
West Ham remain 11th and manager Manuel Pellegrini said Hazard had made the difference.
“When a player with the quality of Eden Hazard, you know he can make different things,” he said.
“Going through four players is not easy. But we could have done better in the way we defended that goal and our play.
“We changed things and we had a chance to draw. I saw the personality in the second half but in the first half, no.”