Hazard wonder goal knocks Liverpool out of Carabao Cup
Eden Hazard is “one of the best in the world”, Chelsea Assistant Manager Gianfranco Zola said after the forward scored a stunning late winner against Liverpool in the Carabao Cup.
The Belgium international’s finish into the far corner with five minutes remaining sealed victory as Chelsea came from behind to end Premier League leaders Liverpool’s perfect start to the season and reach the fourth round.
Hazard was introduced as a substitute in the second half and although he was quiet for much of it, he burst into action by beating Alberto Moreno and smashing home.
“It’s a fantastic goal. Not only the beauty of it but for the time he scored it,” Zola said.
“Not only is Hazard one of the best in the Premier League – if not the best – but he is one of the best in Europe and the world.
“In my opinion we haven’t seen the best of him yet. He is remarkable.”
The Blues had been the better side in the first half with striker Alvaro Morata somehow striking a shot across the goalline and the Spaniard also nodded a free header over the crossbar.
Liverpool, who had won all seven games this season, took the lead through Daniel Sturridge’s well-executed hooked finish, just minutes after the England international missed a completely open net.
Chelsea levelled the contest through Emerson Palmieri’s close-range finish which needed intervention from the video assistant referee (VAR) to check for offside before being awarded.
Liverpool will be looking for revenge when the two sides meet again in the league on Saturday (kick-off 17:30 BST), while the fourth-round draw takes place on the same day at 21:00 BST.
Sarri’s super start
Despite winning the FA Cup last season under Antonio Conte, Chelsea replaced the Italian with compatriot Maurizio Sarri, who left Serie A side Napoli for Stamford Bridge.
The Blues were way off the pace in the league last term, finishing fifth, but have begun the new campaign in impressive style under Sarri.
They lost the Community Shield with a poor performance against Premier League champions Manchester City, but have shown quick progress by being unbeaten after six games in the top flight and lie two points adrift of leaders Liverpool.
Midfielder Cesc Fabregas controlled the play in the middle of the park early on and fellow Spaniard Morata – who looks bereft of confidence – should have taken one of his chances.
Having fallen behind, the Londoners did not panic and turned the game around with two goals in six second-half minutes, the second of which was an unstoppable strike by Hazard past goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.
Hazard, who has five league goals so far, collected the ball wide on the right before drifting into the box, nutmegging Moreno and arrowing a thunderous shot into the net.
Hazard said: “This result will give us more confidence because we drew with West Ham four days ago. The game on Saturday [with Liverpool] is more important. We have got to try and beat Liverpool on Saturday.”
Although Liverpool have also made a flying start this term, winning all of their previous seven games, one of their four chances of claiming silverware at the end of the campaign has been ended at the first hurdle. (BBC Sport)