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Not just another stroll in the St. James Park.

Vivek Joshi
CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
315   //    28 Aug 2018, 09:52 IST

Eden Hazard celebrates his sublime goal from the spot to give Chelsea the lead
Eden Hazard celebrates his sublime goal from the spot to give Chelsea the lead.

Sarri-ball has the last laugh against Benitez’s new defensive strategy.

A Sunday evening when the God of rain was having no mercy on the spectators and the players, the men in black and white stripes were a force to be reckoned with. But as Newton rightly said, for every action, there’s an equal and an opposite reaction. Benitez and men came with a plan and executed it to perfection, destroying and killing Chelsea’s attack and players one by one. But when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Starting his first game of the season Chelsea’s main man, the legend in the making, Eden Hazard was fouled, shoved and kicked to pieces by Newcastle defenders. Every time the white and black stripe brought him down, he took time to get back up, not just giving Chelsea fans heartbeat a rest but stood up with the will to rename St James Park to Garden of Eden.

Indeed, the gods, the evening and the thousands of attendants supporting Newcastle were awestruck with the flair and the brilliance of Belgium’s captain. The calm and composed mind powered by the attitude to become one of the best of his generation, Hazard was often crowded by 4-5 Newcastle players either giving away the free-kick to Chelsea or Hazard delivering a short, crisp and accurate pass to his team. Not to mention, in the first minute he was caught on the back of the ankle by the studs of Matt Ritchie and was then clattered on the right leg by Mohammed Diame.

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri before the match hinted that Eden will be given 60 minutes game time but the genius and beauty of Hazard convinced the Italian that 90 minutes of Eden Hazard equals 3 points in the bag. A counter and lethal run by the Spaniard Marcos Alonso, the livewire, the omnipresent, the striker in the form of a defender, surprised Newcastle defenders who were lurking to get Eden into the trap failed to track his run and gave away the penalty. Eden stepped up and a solid shot into left. Chelsea reaps rewards for the relentless and patient attack.

The blues joy was short-lived as Yedlin received the corner and elbowed Olivier Giroud in the build-up and crossed only for Joselu to level the playing field with a brilliant header while running across David Luiz who wasn’t expecting anything and he was so sure about his instincts that he even had his eyes closed. Time’s running out for the Brazilian as the young Danish Christensen can be summoned anytime to replace Luiz.

Newcastle was resolute in defense and hardly gave Chelsea a chance until the dying moments when they failed to clear their lines and Marcos Alonso’s shot took a deflection off DeAndre Yedlin. Two assists in a single game for the American right back.

Overall Chelsea dominated the game with the 81% possession. Antonio Rudiger rattled the crossbar with his long-range effort. Pedro, Caesar Azpilicueta, and Morata registered shots on target but failed to put the ball back into the net. Jorginho had staggering stats for himself by dominating the ball with 15% possession compared to Newcastle’s 19%. The win brings Chelsea on 2nd and 3 successive wins for Sarri.

A long way to go for Maurizio Sarri to conquer the heart of Chelsea board and lay hands on any silverware but his ideology can be seen running through the veins of Chelsea players who seem to enjoy this style of football. The defensive failures would still be lurking in his mind, but he can smoke his cigarette in style if the goals keep coming in.

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Vivek Joshi
CONTRIBUTOR
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