Chelsea 3-0 Newcastle United
Eden Hazard struck his first hat-trick in a sublime display for Chelsea to send the Blues to the top of the Premier League with a comfortable win over Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
The Belgium international opened his account in the 27th minute after a great ball from Branislav Ivanovic before adding a second seven minutes later after a clever flick by Samuel Eto'o.
Hazard completed his treble in the 63rd minute from the penalty spot after Eto'o had been hauled down by Newcastle substitute Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa as they waited for a corner.
But the victory saw Jose Mourinho's team nose ahead of Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table.
Chelsea captain John Terry was omitted from the squad with a muscle strain, while Ivanovic made his 250th appearance for the Blues.
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew gave Luuk de Jong his full debut along with academy graduate Paul Dummett at left-back as part of two changes to the team that lost to Sunderland last weekend.
Hatem Ben Arfa proved to be an early threat for the Magpies, but Petr Cech was equal to both of his early attempts.
Sammy Ameobi showed some great footwork in the 19th minute to slalom through three Chelsea players to set up Moussa Sissoko, but his effort was wide.
But Chelsea began to find their footing in the game, and after a spell of pressure, they opened the scoring in the 27th minute. A pacy pass from Ivanovic was struck by Hazard beyond Tim Krul for his 12th goal of the season.
Fantastic technique from the youngster to cut across the ball as it was played back into his path by Ivanovic, not easy to execute. #CFCLive— Chelsea FC (@chelseafc) February 8, 2014
The Belgium international almost added a second moments later, but his free-kick drifted wide of goal after Vurnon Anita had clipped Nemanja Matic.
But in the 34th minute, Hazard did add his second of the game. His one-two play with Samuel Eto'o's neat backheel set up the chance for the midfielder, and he guided the ball beyond Krul from the edge of the six-yard area.
The best thing about that Hazard goal was just how easy he and Eto'o made it look.— Rik Sharma (@riksharma_) February 8, 2014
Cech saved well in the 40th minute, as he denied De Jong a debut goal after a great Sissoko cross.
Newcastle were forced into a switch just before half-time when Mathieu Debuchy withdrew from the action through injury and was replaced by Yanga-Mbiwa.
Hazard clearly had the bit between his teeth now in search of his hat-trick, and a flashing drive flew just over Krul's crossbar in the 44th minute.
But Newcastle were not out of the game, and Frank Lampard needed to be decisive to snuff out the threat of Ameobi's pullback with De Jong lurking in the area.
Ameobi received the first yellow card of the game early in the second period for a foul on Ivanovic, but Lampard's subsequent free-kick came to nothing.
Krul was fortunate to escape embarrassment when a long clearance from David Luiz came toward him in the 52nd minute.
The Newcastle goalkeeper slipped on the wet turf, and the ball went over him. However, the pace of clearance was too much for Oscar to catch up with as he attempted to steer it home.
52' - Almost a bizarre goal for Chelsea as Tim Krul slips over while racing out to clear but the ball zips just wide.— Newcastle United FC (@NUFCOfficial) February 8, 2014
Steven Taylor prevented a third Chelsea goal, as his tackle denied Eto'o a chance at goal, but the Chelsea striker was guilty of needing too much time on the ball.
But Chelsea added a third in the 63rd minute, as Hazard completed his hat-trick.
Yanga-Mbiwa hauled down Eto'o inside the area as they waited for a Lampard corner, and the infraction was spotted by the assistant referee. Hazard stepped up to the spot and rolled the penalty past Krul.
Eden Hazard is the fourth player to hit a hat trick in the Prem League this season (Suarez [x2], A Johnson, Eto'o). pic.twitter.com/cOADdVbzQP— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) February 8, 2014
With 13 minutes remaining, Mourinho brought on Mohamed Salah for his debut in place of Willian in a straight swap for Chelsea.
De Jong had a chance on goal with seven minutes remaining, but Cech was barely troubled as he collected the effort.
A minute later, Hazard left the field to the applause of the Stamford Bridge supporters when he was replaced by Andre Schurrle.
Salah almost marked his debut with Chelsea's fourth goal, but the former Basle winger dragged his effort wide.
Sylvain Marveaux was guilty of squandering a late consolation for Newcastle after being played one-on-one with Cech by Sissoko, but a woeful finish saw him put the ball wide.
Selected player ratings
Eden Hazard: A+
A quality first-half display underscored by his two excellent strikes to give Chelsea the advantage. Fully deserved his first hat-trick for the club in a superb all-round display at Stamford Bridge.
Luuk de Jong: B
A solid full debut for the transfer-window signing from Borussia Monchengladbach. He was unfortunate not to open his account for Newcastle in the first half but lacked service, as Chelsea pressed the visitors back.
Samuel Eto'o: A-
He worked a clever backheel for Hazard's second goal and looked to be finding his feet with the Blues. Eto'o played his part in Hazard's third goal when his presence in the area at a corner was enough to convince Yanga-Mbiwa to haul him down.
Chelsea travel to West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League on Tuesday, while Newcastle play host to Tottenham Hotspur 24 hours later.
Mourinho: 'Hazard's performance was similar to other ones, the only difference today was the hat-trick. He has consistency & ambition.' #CFC— Chelsea FC (@chelseafc) February 8, 2014
Mourinho: 'Normally Terry will be okay for Tuesday's game.' #CFC— Chelsea FC (@chelseafc) February 8, 2014
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho: We didn't do very well in the first half... In the second half we were completely in control."— Premier League (@premierleague) February 8, 2014
Pardew on Chelsea: "They're a good team. Their work rate today was phenominal, I thought, for a team with technical ability."— Dan Levene (@BluesChronicle) February 8, 2014