Hazard scored twice as superb Chelsea made it five successive wins in the league with a 5-0 victory over Everton at Stamford Bridge

The fans in the Matthew Harding Stand spent the second half bellowing Antonio Contes name, making it perfectly clear that they have a new hero at Stamford Bridge, and Chelsea were so dominant they could even afford to give one of their reserve centre-backs a brief cameo towards the end of this ruthless evisceration of Everton. John Terry enjoyed a suitably warm reception from the locals as he ran on and the club captains reduced role was a reminder that Chelsea are quickly building a new identity under the manager who has breathed fresh life into a side that improbably flirted with a relegation battle a year ago.

They never quite got over Jos Mourinho when his first spell in charge came to a bitter end nine years ago. This time, however, nobody at Chelsea is pining for Mourinho.

For all that these remain early days, they will challenge for the title if they continue to hit these heights. While Ronald Koeman was critical of Evertons failure to match their opponents aggression in those crucial early stages when the game slipped from their grasp, he spoke admiringly of the winning mentality that Chelsea are developing under Conte.

Nothing epitomises their resurgence more than the way that Diego Costa and Eden Hazard have rediscovered their zip and poise after drifting aimlessly through last season. Costa took revenge for a dangerous early tackle from Samus Coleman that left him with a bloody right ankle and an even bigger scowl than usual by pulverising Evertons ragged defence, while Hazard had a hand in all five of Chelseas goals and scored twice, taking his tally to seven from his first 11 league matches.

Conte insisted that it is not important that Chelseas victory lifted them to the Premier Leagues summit, pointing out that Arsenal and Liverpool have opportunities to overtake them on Sunday. Yet any side that puts together a run of five consecutive wins and clean sheets should not be underestimated. Fantastica, Conte said when he was asked to sum up Chelseas performance with an Italian word.

Chelsea have certainly come a long way since their thrashing by Arsenal at the end of September, when the talk was of crisis and a side that would struggle to qualify for the Champions League. Conte had seen enough after that humiliation in north London, switching to a 3-4-3 system, and it has not taken long for Chelsea to feel the benefits of the Italians proactive repair job.

I have never seen a team so strong playing this system, Koeman said. The movements of Hazard and Costa, it is difficult.

Evertons manager flattered Conte with an imitation of his system, Phil Jagielkas return to the side allowing the visitors to line up with three centre-backs, but his ploy had no effect. Nine minutes before half-time, Koeman ditched Plan A and brought on Kevin Mirallas for Bryan Oviedo. Six minutes later, Costa scored Chelseas third, finishing confidently after Nemanja Matic flicked on Hazards corner.

Chelsea have made a habit of blowing their opponents away with blistering starts in recent weeks and they took control of the game inside the first 20 minutes thanks to two moments of brilliance from Hazard. Everton had started with intent, the fireworks that lit up the darkening sky in west London before kick-off matched by the sparks that flew on the pitch when Colemans studs raked Costas right ankle. Blood seeped through Costas sock and the Everton defender somehow got away with it, although he might have preferred an early bath given how the match unfolded.

The punishment began in the 19th minute. Missing the calming touches of the suspended Idrissa Gueye, Evertons midfield was overwhelmed by Matic and NGolo Kant. Gareth Barry lost possession in the middle, Hazard broke down the left, beat Ashley Williams and aimed for the far corner, the unsighted Maarten Stekelenburg allowing the Belgians crisp drive to beat his dive.

There was barely time for Everton to gather their thoughts before Hazard was bursting clear again. Pedro rolled the ball across the area for Marcos Alonso, who slipped a low finish through Stekelenburgs legs for his first Chelsea goal. If they get the space, they will kill that, Koeman said.

A win would have lifted Everton into fifth place but they never troubled Thibaut Courtois. Romelu Lukaku fed off scraps against his former club and the Everton forward could only watch as Hazard ran riot at the other end, a slick exchange with Pedro creating the space for him to dart inside from the right and fire inside the near post.

He is playing great football, Conte said. The most important thing is Eden is fantastic with the ball and without the ball.

Chelsea refused to stop. Costa instigated another attack, turning superbly before finding Hazard. Stekelenburg saved his curling effort this time but Pedro scored on the rebound from close range.

Celebrating wildly, Conte did not realise that the fans were singing his name until one of his assistants told him. He looked at the crowd, beamed and clenched his fist.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2016/nov/05/chelsea-everton-premier-league-match-report

Eden Hazard inspires Everton thrashing as Chelsea top the Premier League
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