Hazard’s penalty sees off gutsy Rangers

Chelsea 2 QPR 1

Eden Hazard’s 75th-minute penalty won a fiercely contested west London derby for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Oscar put them ahead with a brilliant first-half strike with the outside of the boot before Charlie Austin hauled QPR level just after the hour mark when he diverted Leroy Fer’s mis-hit shot into the net.

But Hazard restored the Blues’ lead from the spot after Eduardo Vargas was harshly adjudged to have fouled him near the left-hand edge of the box.

Rangers were always competitive – unrecognisable from the side which rolled over at Tottenham and Manchester United – but Chelsea ultimately deserved the points.

The Premier League leaders, who remain two points clear of Southampton, dominated the first half and Branislav Ivanovic missed an early chance to give them the lead.

The Serbian defender, unmarked at the near post, fired into the side netting from close range after being found by Willian’s cross.

Willian was involved in creating an earlier chance for Oscar, who scuffed a shot wide after the fit-again Diego Costa had back-heeled the ball into his path.

At the other end, Austin headed over from Junior Hoilett’s cross.

That was a rare QPR attack, though, and Fabregas had an effort pushed away by keeper Rob Green shortly before setting up the opener.

Fabregas dribbled towards the penalty area, drawing defenders towards him – including left-back Yun Suk-Young – and was able to pick out Oscar in space to his right.

The Brazilian did the rest, beautifully steering the ball beyond Green and into the far corner.

Fabregas has now been involved in 10 of Chelsea’s league goals this season, scoring one himself and providing nine assists.

Chelsea continued to threaten after the break, with Hazard just failing to connect with Willian’s right-wing cross and Filipe Luis firing over the Rangers bar.

But the visitors hit back when keeper Thibaut Courtois fisted away Vargas’ driven cross and was then off balance and beaten by Austin’s clever flick after Fer had scuffed his effort.

After the unfortunate Vargas, who worked tirelessly throughout, was penalised and Hazard netted with his spot-kick, Rangers battled on but were unable to dig out another equaliser.

And Chelsea would have netted a third had Green not produced a fine save to keep out John Terry’s header.

Chelsea: Courtois; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Filipe Luis; Matic, Fabregas; Willian (Drogba 64), Oscar, Hazard (Ramires 90); Costa (Schurrle 76).
Subs not used: Cech, Zouma, Ake, Salah.

QPR: Green, Isla, Caulker, Dunne, Yun, Hoilet (Zamora 60), Sandro, Henry, Fer (Traore 83), Vargas, Austin.
Subs not used: Murphy, Hill, Phillips, Wright-Phillips, Kranjcar.

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