Hazard’s goal moves Blues closer to title

Chelsea 1 Manchester United 0

Chelsea could be crowned champions in 11 days’ time after Eden Hazard’s first-half winner took them a step closer to the Premier League title.

Hazard struck eight minutes before the interval when he finished off a fine move by firing past keeper David De Gea.

After John Terry got the better of the unimpressive Radamel Falcao near the halfway line, Cesc Fabregas played the ball to Oscar and the Brazilian cleverly back-heeled in to the path of Hazard, who had drifted in from the left.

The result moved Chelsea 10 points clear at the top and means if they win at second-placed Arsenal next weekend they can wrap up the title with a victory at Leicester a week on Wednesday.

That despite Manchester United looking the more dangerous side early on and almost taking the lead when Luke Shaw broke clear on the left and pulled the ball back for Wayne Rooney, who curled a shot just wide.

The England forward’s left-footed effort struck the stanchion behind the goal, leaving the visiting fans at the opposite of the end of the ground – and De Gea – briefly believing their team had gone ahead.

United, still mathematically in with a chance of winning the title, did most of the early pressing and Paddy McNair’s shot went wide after taking a deflection off Blues skipper Terry.

With Diego Costa and Loic Remy still out injured, Didier Drogba again led the line for Chelsea.

They deployed Kurt Zouma in an important defensive role in midfield but lacked fluency going forward before scoring with their first real chance of the game – Hazard’s 18th goal of the season.

His 19th almost followed 10 minutes into the second half.

Drogba’s shot deflected off United defender Chris Smalling and over De Gea, and Hazard hit the bar from an awkward angle as he tried to divert the ball into the net at the far post.

At the other end, Falcao fired against the outside of the near post after spinning away from Zouma.

It was the closest United, who had won their previous six league matches, came to an equaliser.

They appealed in vain for an injury-time penalty when Ander Herrera, who was booked for diving, went down under a challenge from Gary Cahill.

Chelsea: Courtois, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Zouma, Matic, Oscar (Ramires 67), Fabregas (Mikel 90), Hazard (Willian 90), Drogba.
Subs not used: Cech, Filipe Luis, Cuadrado, Solanke.

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