Chelsea booked their place in the knockout rounds of the Champions League as winners of Group G with a 5-0 hammering of Schalke in Gelsenkirchen on Tuesday night.
Goals from captain John Terry and Willian gave the London outfit an early 2-0 lead, before a Jan Kirchhoff own goal in the 44th minute made it three going into half-time. During the second period, efforts from substitutes Didier Drogba and Ramires secured all three points for the Blues, while leaving Schalke's qualification hopes hanging in the balance.
But, despite his absence from the score sheet, Chelsea's Belgian magician Eden Hazard played a pivotal role in the emphatic European victory. It has to be said, though, that this proved to be one of the 23-year-old's more subdued games in a Chelsea shirt. And yet he still impressed on all accounts...
He is exceptional at creating space in the final third, a skill that sees him rated so highly by the footballing world. His ability to weave through defenders with the ball at his feet, accelerating from a stand-still to full speed in a matter of milliseconds, is simply mesmerizing. He showed fantastic close control here, completing four dribbles - a match-best - and drawing three fouls.
|Minutes Played||Assists||Key Passes||Pass Accuracy (%)||Final-third Passes||Shot Accuracy (%)||Dribbles||Fouls|
Hazard recorded one assist, setting Willian free for the Blues' second goal of the evening. This proved to be his only successful key pass, although he was vital to his side's exploits in the final third all evening, controlling the club's intricate passing moves on the periphery of the Schalke penalty area. The Belgian completed 89% of his 56 attempted passes; 27 of which came in the attacking third.
Despite his creative efforts, he was unable to get himself on the scoresheet. He managed one attempt throughout 90 minutes - this came in stoppage time - but ultimately he was denied by Schalke's Ralf Fahrmann. A goal here would have rounded off an impressive performance by the 23-year-old, adding to his current tally of two European goals for the season.
Hazard's displays are now so consistently excellent that they are starting to appear as average by his standards whenever he does not do anything spectacular. This was yet another outstanding contribution from the Belgian international, who looks set to excel for the Stamford Bridge outfit for years to come. His form, more than any of his Chelsea team-mates, will prove influential to the club's chances of success in Europe this term.