Eden Hazard’s stunning two-goal show for Chelsea was enough to beat West Ham 2-0 and move his team up to third in the Premier League table, above London rivals Tottenham and Arsenal.

Hazard scored a sublime first-half effort at Stamford Bridge and then clinched victory with a drilled finish in the last minute.

The result eases the pressure on manager Maurizio Sarri, who knows he must take Chelsea into next year’s Champions League to keep his job, and also emphasises just how important Hazard is to the clubs’ ambitions.

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Chelsea now have 66 points, 14 adrift of second placed Manchester City but two clear of Spurs, even though Mauricio Pochettino’s side have a game in hand. 

Not bad for a club that was said to be heading into crisis when fans called for Sarri to be sacked when his team went behind at Cardiff recently.

Hazard proved to the saviour in that particular match and he did again against West Ham, taking his tally to 16 goals in the Premier League.

All the talk before the match was about whether Chelsea’s star winger Eden Hazard would even be selected after reports he had already agreed a £100m move to Real Madrid at the end of the season. 

But, whatever the truth of those transfer rumours, the Belgian didn’t take long to deliver a perfect riposte with a goal of stunning quality.

The were 24 minutes on the clock when Hazard picked up the ball with his back to goal inside the centre circle, and what happened next was pure football fantasy.

The number 10 slalomed past a long list of West Ham defenders and calmly finished left-footed past West Ham goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianksi.

Eden Hazard cuts between two defenders on route to goal (Getty)

It was the speed of Hazard’s final step-over-and-switch inside the area which totally dazzled his shell-shocked opponents and made the goal a thing of real beauty; one that may well take its place in the great goals of Premier League history.

His contribution to the first half didn’t end there, either, as continued to torment West Ham from almost every area of the pitch.

He was unlucky not to earn his team a penalty after 30 minutes when another mesmerising run into the penalty area saw him deliberately barged to the floor by the shoulder of Marko Arnautovic. But, fortunately for the visitors, referee Chris Kavanagh didn’t see it that way.

Hazard then played a wonderful cross-field pass to Callum Hudson-Odoi, chosen to start a Premier League game for the second match in a row, but saw N’Golo Kante’s cross from the winger’s cut-back wasted by Gonzalo Higuain. The Argentine should have finished from close range but struck his shot against Fabianski.

West Ham made five changes after losing miserable at Everton in their previous fixture – and made another at half-time when manager Manuel Pellegrini took off Hernandez in favour of Robert Snodgrass.

The only consolation for the Hammers at that stage was that Chelsea hadn’t put the game to bed. 

So when Hazard fired narrowly wide at the start of the second half and Manuel Lanzini forced Kepa Arrizabalaga into a fine save soon after, the result looked less certain than expected.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek also wasted an excellent opportunity for 2-0 as the game opened up and Aaron Cresswell fired a left-footed effort just past the post at the other end.

The fact that Chelsea hung on, to protect a record of conceding only 10 goals at home in the Premier League this season, was a credit to their organisation and helps explain how they have risen to the giddy heights of third place.

Eden Hazard celebrates with his teammates (Reuters)

But their reliance on Hazard’s genius, on a day when Gonzalo Higuain produced a miserable performance, cannot be underestimated. 

West Ham almost equalised late on, through Arnautovic at the far post, but Hazard then collected a Ross Barkley pass to rifle home the decider.

Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Emerson, Kante, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek (Barkley 70), Hudson-Odoi (Pedro 85), Higuain (Giroud 77), Hazard. Subs not used: Caballero, Kovacic, Giroud, Willian, Christensen.

West Ham: Fabianski, Fredericks, Balbuena, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Noble (Obian 70), Rice, Anderson, Lanzini, Arnautovic, Hernandez (Snodgrass 45). Subs not used: Adrian, Nasri, Diop, Masuaku, Perez.

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