Eden Hazard scored twice in a 5-0 demolition of Everton on Saturday that demonstrated the attacking might that is capable of propelling Chelsea to the title.
And the ruthless display came against an Everton side which boasted the league’s second-best defensive record before heading to west London, and earned a 1-1 draw at Manchester City a month ago.
City headed into the game against Middlesbrough in top place but stumbled to a 1-1 draw to leave Pep Guardiola’s side with one win in five.
Eden Hazard epitomizes the revival of the team that was hovering above the relegation zone a year ago in the closing weeks of Jose Mourinho’s second spell in charge.
Hazard has already eclipsed last season’s five-goal haul in the league by taking his tally to seven against Everton. The Belgium winger cut in from the left before netting the opener in the 19th minute and Chelsea scored again within 25 seconds of the restart. Hazard and Pedro Rodriguez combined to set up Marcos Alonso, who struck through goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg’s legs for his first Chelsea goal.
Diego Costa grabbed Chelsea’s third before halftime after Nemanja Matic was left unmarked to head a corner into the path of the striker.
The pick of the goals came 10 minutes after the break, with a move started and completed by Hazard after a one-two with Victor Moses. Hazard weaved into the penalty area before striking past Stekelenburg.
Costa was the creator of the fifth, winning the ball around the halfway line and darting down the field unchallenged before passing to Hazard. Although Hazard was denied a hat trick by Stekelenburg, Pedro was on hand to tap into the empty net.
Everton, which remained sixth, didn’t even manage a shot on target. Chelsea’s stay at the top could be short-lived if Arsenal beats Tottenham on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Sergio Aguero scored his 150th goal for City before halftime but the hosts were made to pay for failing to kill off the game. Four days after stunning Barcelona 3-1, City conceded in stoppage time to 14th-place Middlesbrough when Marten de Roon planted a header past goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.
“We created enough chances, we attacked really well and we controlled the counterattacks but when you arrive in the last minutes just 1-0, everything can happen,” City manager Pep Guardiola said. “If we talk about the performance after a demanding game last Tuesday, how we started, moving the ball right and left, maybe in the last minutes the team can be tired.”
City has drawn three of its last five league games, lost one, and won only once.
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