Hiddink defends Hazard after Chelsea’s European exit


Guus Hiddink defended Eden Hazard in the wake of Chelsea’s Champions League exit.

The Belgian produced another poor performance as his team were knocked out of the tournament by Paris St-Germain.

Hazard, who has been tipped to move this summer amid speculation over his future, was booed off by some of the home crowd at Stamford Bridge when he was substituted in the second half.

But Blues boss Hiddink said the player was struggling with a hip problem and also played down Hazard swapping shirts with PSG’s Angel Di Maria as the teams were walking off at half-time.

“I haven’t seen it, but I am aware of it,” Hiddink said.

Chelsea lost 2-1 on the night and 4-2 on aggregate
Chelsea lost 2-1 on the night and 4-2 on aggregate

“It should not be done, but in some countries it is usual after a game or at half-time, and maybe they are both used to doing it.

“I don’t want to see a bad thought behind that. It’s not a big issue. I don’t overvalue this issue. There’s no bad intention.”

Hiddink said Hazard and Diego Costa would be assessed ahead of Saturday’s trip to Everton to see if they are fit enough to play in the FA Cup quarter-final.

Costa hauled his side back into the tie by scoring 10 minutes after Adrien Rabiot’s goal, but the striker went off in the second half after picking up another injury.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic struck shortly afterwards, volleying home from close range after being found by Di Maria’s cross.

Hiddink said: “We started too respectful in the first 10 or 15 minutes.

“On the other hand, PSG is a team that knows how to play a possession game and we had to be very careful not to be outplayed.

“We were too respectful, but then we got forward more, won duels, and from there we got a deserved equaliser.

“In the second half we pushed and tried for 2-1. We had a chance in the 65th minute to score and didn’t do so, and in the 67th minute they attacked and killed the game.”