Hazard on the spot for Chelsea

Date published: Monday 24th August 2015 1:23

Hazard on the spot for Chelsea

Rangers were surprise winners at Stamford Bridge two seasons ago but there looked to be little chance of a repeat after Oscar gave Jose Mourinho’s side a deserved first-half advantage.
But QPR found renewed belief after the break, Charlie Austin equalising with a deft flick before Eduardo Vargas’ rash challenge allowed Hazard to win it from the penalty spot. 
Chelsea were soon on the offensive and forced a series of corners as QPR’s defence dug in for a testing afternoon.
Oscar side-footed wide from 10 yards as the home side continued to dominate, readily switching the ball from one flank to the other.
Willian, always a threat on the right, then worked some space and Bransilav Ivanovic flicked his cross into the side-netting at the near post.
Rangers did manage to break the shackles, but Austin could not get any power on his header, while Leroy Fer failed to pick the right option after a promising surge through the middle.
Cesc Fabregas had Rob Green at full stretch before the Chelsea midefielder was heavily involved in the opening goal in the 32nd minute.
He took a return pass from Diego Costa on the edge of the area before picking out Oscar on the right of the area and the Brazilian coolly bent the ball beyond Green with the outside of his right boot.
Green had to be on his toes to prevent an opening for the lively Costa, and the Chelsea striker threatened again after Willian had picked him out at the far post.
Junior Hoilett came off for Bobby Zamora and moments later the visitors were level thanks to Austin’s impudence in the 62nd minute.
Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois fisted Vargas’ driven shot out to the edge of the area where Fer volleyed towards goal without much conviction, but Austin’s clever back-heel from seven yards wrong-footed Courtois to spark wild celebrations in the away end.
Renewed belief flooded through the Rangers’ ranks and Sandro’s low shot crept narrowly past the post, but Green was soon back in action at the other end, shepherding Oscar’s free-kick past the post.
Zamora teed up Austin for a 20-yard shot but it flew well wide as the game opened up, but Vargas’ rush of blood was to prove costly as he clattered into Hazard on the left-hand edge of the area and the Belgian calmly sent Green (75) the wrong way from the spot.
Gary Cahill slid in to deny Zamora as QPR continued to press, while John Terry’s header drew a good stop from Green before Chelsea were finally able to celebrate their victory. 
The three points kept Chelsea four points ahead of second-placed Southampton, who continued their superb run with a 1-0 win at Hull City, in the Premier League table. 
Charlie Nicholas’ view
Chelsea deserved to win, but it wasn’t a sparkling performance. It was a grafting performance, but credit to Queens Park Rangers, who put on a very decent show. Their defensive organisation was good, but they did park the bus. They were cautious and had Charlie Austin up front on his own, but they worked the flanks really well and the balance was pretty impressive.
For me it’s not a penalty. Hazard cut across Vargas, but put his arm up. Vargas can’t just step to the side. He quite rightly stood side by side with him and the feet bumped into each other. He fell over and unfortunately Mike Jones, the referee, bought it. Mourinho will say it was and Harry will say it wasn’t, but I will stand beside Harry. It was a very, very soft penalty.

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