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Hazard reaches goal milestone as Chelsea gets back on track

January 20, 2018

Chelsea's Eden Hazard, left, and Brighton & Hove Albion's Pascal Gross during their English Premier League soccer match at the AMEX Stadium in Brighton, England, Saturday Jan. 20, 2018. (Gareth Fuller/PA via AP)

BRIGHTON, England (AP) — Eden Hazard scored his 100th and 101st league goals to help defending champion Chelsea collect its first Premier League win of the year with a 4-0 victory at Brighton on Saturday.

The Belgium winger put Chelsea in front after three minutes when Brighton failed to clear a cross from Victor Moses and Hazard slammed the ball home from eight meters (yards).

Hazard was also involved in the second goal only three minutes later as some intricate link play ended with Brazil midfielder Willian producing a venomous right-footed shot that gave Brighton goalkeeper Mat Ryan no chance.

Brighton’s Ezequiel Schelotto then had two first-half penalty appeals turned down.

The Argentine-born utility player appeared to be tripped by Chelsea goalkeeper Willy Caballero, who was making a rare league start in the absence of the injured Thibaut Courtois, and Schelotto also went tumbling to the ground after tangling with Tiemoue Bakayoko.

Chelsea, which was also without suspended duo Alvaro Morata and Pedro and the injured Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas, had another fright early in the second half when Davy Propper headed the ball against the post.

Hazard lit up the Amex Stadium again when he finished off a dazzling solo run from the halfway line with an emphatic finish in the 77th minute.

Moses completed the scoring after an excellent through ball from substitute Charly Musonda in the 89th minute.

Chelsea, which had drawn its two previous league matches in 2018, stayed in the Champions League spots with 50 points from 24 matches. Struggling Brighton is on 23 points.

“We started very well and scored quickly, with good combinations,” said Chelsea manager Antonio Conte. “We started with a lot of worries, injuries and suspensions, but the response of the team was incredible.

“It was a really good performance ... we tried to find players between the lines, to have good combinations. I saw important things. Now we have to continue.”

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