Eden Hazard starred for Chelsea as he scored one and set up another in a hard-fought 2-1 Premier League victory over Brighton and Hove Albion.
Hazard netted a double in Chelsea’s 4-0 win in the corresponding fixture last season, and the winger dazzled Brighton in the first half on Sunday.
With Pedro having benefited from Hazard’s exceptional play for Chelsea’s opener, the Belgian doubled the visitors’ advantage with his first goal in eight games just after the half-hour, although he was replaced late on after picking up a knock.
Solly March’s close-range finish after Marcos Alonso had hit the woodwork set up a grandstand finish, but Chelsea held firm to move back within two points of third-placed Tottenham.
Buoyed by his goal against Manchester City, David Luiz had Chelsea’s first attempt, Mat Ryan doing well to judge the defender’s dipping free-kick.
But Ryan was beaten in the 17th minute, as Hazard came to the fore.
After seeing his initial shot blocked, Hazard capitalised on the ricochet, driving into the area before sliding a disguised pass to the far post, setting up Pedro for a simple finish.
Hazard turned from provider to scorer 16 minutes later, racing clear of Brighton’s defence to latch on to Willian’s through ball and slot beyond Ryan.
Chelsea should have been out of sight early in the second half, but Hazard failed to tuck in Cesar Azpilicueta’s pinpoint cross before Alonso’s venomous effort clattered off the upright.
Brighton made their good fortune count when March tucked home in the 66th minute, though it was ultimately the sensational first-half display from Hazard – who left the field seven minutes from time following a heavy challenge from Dale Stephens – that proved decisive, with Lewis Dunk heading wide from six yards out in stoppage time.