Eden Hazard's reign of terror over the Premier League continued on Saturday, as the electrifying winger scored two first-half goals and eventually earned himself a hat trick against an overmatched Newcastle side.
For his first-half efforts, WhoScored awarded him a 7.9 match rating after the first 45 minutes, putting him on pace for a Man of the Match performance.
Hazard opened the scoring in the 27th minute. After a clever spin to create space, he sent a pass to Branislav Ivanovic, who was posted at the top-right corner of the box. The defender quickly sent a pass back to Hazard, rushing into the box, and the brilliant Belgian ripped a first-time shot into the net.
That tally put him one past his total of nine goals from a year ago. From Squawka Football:
But he wasn't done. In the 34th minute, he found himself with the ball near the edge of the box. Willian made an overlapping run to his left, and Hazard used the space to find room in the box. He found Samuel Eto'o with a pass, who brilliantly back-heeled a pass into the path of Hazard.
From there, it was the simple manner of putting the ball into a wide-open net, and Hazard didn't disappoint. All in all, it was one of the better one-two routines you'll see this season.
Squawka provided a cool chart of the goal:
As Paul Carr of ESPN notes, that tally helped him exceed another achievement from last season:
With two goals today, Eden Hazard has 13 in all comps this season, equaling his total from all of last season.— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) February 8, 2014
And it had folks all over Twitter singing his praises, from Gary Lineker to Ives Galarcep:
Stating the bleeding obvious, but Eden Hazard is a sensationally good footballer.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) February 8, 2014
So good from Eden Hazard to give Chelsea the 1-0 lead on Newcastle. He's been so good this year. Looking forward to seeing Belgium in Brazil— Ives Galarcep (@SoccerByIves) February 8, 2014
For good measure, Hazard would score on a penalty to earn his hat trick in the 63rd minute after Eto'o was fouled during a corner. It capped off a true blinder for the Belgian.
Of course, you could argue this was just another day at the office for Hazard. Coming into the match, he had an average match rating of 7.65 over at WhoScored, good for sixth in the Premier League. And he also came into the game against Newcastle having taken two of the past three Man of the Match distinctions for Chelsea according to the site, including their huge 1-0 win over Manchester City.
For teams around the league, he's certainly lived up to his last name. It's safe to say the Belgian has truly arrived and is one of the best footballers in the world at the moment.