Brilliant Eden Hazard helps Chelsea to 4-2 victory
Belgian's team-mates reach for superlatives as two wins out of two puts Chelsea top of the table
Chelsea 4 Reading 2. Eden Hazard is shaping up to be the buy of the summer after the brilliant Belgian masterminded another victory for Chelsea. Fresh from helping the Blues overcome Wigan on Sunday, the 21-year-old Hazard chipped in with three assists as Chelsea fought their way back from 2-1 down to win 4-2 against plucky Reading.
A penalty from Frank Lampard after Chris Gunter had felled Hazard gave Chelsea the lead on 18 minutes but Reading hit back with two goals in five minutes. First Pavel Pogrebnyak headed past Petr Cech for the equaliser and then on 29 minutes the Chelsea keeper made a hash of stopping Danny Guthrie's free-kick and the visitors were in front.
For more than half an hour Reading kept their hosts at bay but another goalkeeping error on 69 minutes breathed life back into the Blues. Gary Cahill's speculative long-range shot should have been stopped by Adam Federici but all he could do was help the ball on its way into the net.
There was more than a touch of controversy about Chelsea's third goal on 81 minutes as Fernando Torres looked in an offside position when he ran onto Ashley's Cole pass. But the flag stayed down and Torres tapped the ball home.
Hazard got his third assist by setting Branislav Ivanovic free for the fourth goal in stoppage time of an entertaining match, and a victory that lifts Chelsea to the top of the table with two wins from two.
Afterwards the praise was all reserved for Hazard, who's already being talked of at Chelsea in the same breath as the great Italian Gianfranco Zola.
Roman Abramovich beat off competition from Arsenal and Manchester United to buy Hazard from Lille in the summer, paying the French club £32m, and on the evidence of his first two displays the Russian owner's got himself a bargain. "I thought he was absolutely fantastic tonight," Gary Cahill said afterwards of his Belgian team-mate. "The other day against Wigan obviously he was great... but tonight I thought he was special."
A satisfied Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo tried not to single out any players afterwards, telling reporters: "The new signings have certainly impressed and also the players we already had here were fantastic and I'm very pleased with the performance tonight." Pressed to produce a superlative to describe Hazard's display, Di Matteo admitted: "He certainly had an impact on our team… he is finding his feet very quickly."
Tougher tests lie ahead for Hazard and Chelsea, starting on Saturday evening with the visit of Newcastle to Stamford Bridge. There the Belgian will be up against Hatem Ben Arfa, a player he knows well from his days playing in France. Their duel will be worth the admission price alone.