MX23RW : Sunday, July 5 14:00:24| >> :120:5727:5727:
Sep 15, 2018 at 3pm UK at Stamford Bridge
Attendance: 40,499
Chelsea
4-1
CardiffCardiff City
Hazard (37', 44', 80' pen.), Willian (83')
FT(HT: 2-1)
Bamba (16')

Live Commentary: Chelsea 4-1 Cardiff City - as it happened

Relive Sports Mole's live text coverage of Chelsea's 4-1 win over Cardiff, as the Blues recovered from a goal down thanks to Eden Hazard's brilliance.
Live Commentary: Chelsea 4-1 Cardiff City - as it happened
© Reuters
2

Eden Hazard scored his second hat-trick for Chelsea as the Blues maintained their perfect Premier League start with a 4-1 win over Cardiff City.

The Belgian scored twice in the first half to cancel out Sol Bamba's surprise opener for the Bluebirds, who were unable to push on from their bright start.

A third Hazard goal followed from the penalty spot 10 minutes from time, before Willian came off the bench to round off the scoring in style.

Relive how the 90 minutes of action unfolded with Sports Mole's live text coverage below.


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Cardiff did push Arsenal all their way prior to the international break, however, coming within eight minutes of snatching a third point of the season, only for Alexandre Lacazette to undo all their hard work. This will still be considered a home banker of sorts for the Blues, who have brushed aside all comers thus far to join Liverpool and Watford on 12 points from 12.

CHELSEA TEAM NEWS!

STARTING XI: Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso; Jorginho, Kante, Kovacic; Pedro, Giroud, Hazard

SUBS: Caballero, Zappacosta, Christensen, Drinkwater, Barkley, Willian, Morata


Elsewhere, Ruben Loftus-Cheek is absent for the foreseeable future due to a foot injury, which is a particular blow for him with cup games against PAOK and Liverpool to come. Cesc Fabregas once again misses out on a place in the 18-man squad, meanwhile, despite being eased back to fitness in training, and there is no Emerson Palmieri due to illness. Danny Drinkwater and Ross Barkley provide central-midfield back-up from the bench.

CARDIFF CITY TEAM NEWS!

STARTING XI: Etheridge; Manga, Bamba, Morrison, Bennett; Camarasa, Ralls, Arter, Hoilett; Ward, Reid

SUBS: Murphy, Peltier, Richards, Cunningham, Paterson, Zohore, Madine


Switching attention to the visitors, Neil Warnock has stuck with the same XI that pushed Arsenal all the way a couple of weeks back. Danny ward got off the mark with his first ever Premier League goal in the 3-2 loss to the Gunners and therefore retains his place up top today, with the versatile Bobby Reid - yet to make a telling difference in front of goal - offering support.

Kenneth Zohore, Cardiff's first-choice striker last season, provides support from the bench, while Gary Madine has also had a part to play late on in matches this term. Cardiff's midfield four is comprised of Harry Arter, Joe Ralls, Junior Hoilett and Victor Camarasa. The latter was responsible for the Bluebirds' first league goal of the campaign last time out, ending a near seven-hour wait stretching into the last campaign.

Camarasa is a central midfielder by trade and is arguably the most, shall we say, technically gifted of Cardiff's outfield players, but he will be used in a wing role today, as was the case against Arsenal when he impressed. Hoilett is far more of an out-and-out winger and ended the last campaign as the Welsh outfit's top scorer in all competitions. Elsewhere, the back four and goalkeeper remains the same.

Maurizio Sarri has made one change to Chelsea's starting lineup, bringing in Olivier Giroud for Alvaro Morata in a like-for-like switch up top. Meanwhile, veteran Cardiff City boss Neil Warnock sticks with the same XI that lost 3-2 to Arsenal a fortnight ago.

Olivier Giroud in action for Chelsea in the FA Cup on April 22, 2018© Reuters


One factor to take into consideration is that Chelsea have had nine of their regulars away on international duty over the past fortnight, whereas Cardiff lost only a few of their star men - Hoilett, Etheridge and Manga among them. That may help balance things out slightly in West London, but there is no doubt that the Blues are the overwhelming favourites to come out on top this afternoon.

Sarri has attempted to play down his side's chances of lifting the Premier League title, but four wins from four has left fans dreaming of a repeat from two years ago. On that occasion, under the watch of Antonio Conte, the Blues finished top of the pile - fairly comfortably, it must be said - a year on from ending 10th. Conte got the best out of every individual in his side, and that has so far been the blueprint followed by successor and compatriot Sarri.

Sarri-ball, as it is now well known, is already clear to see at Stamford Bridge. The most obvious example was in the 2-1 win at Newcastle when the Blues saw more than 80% of the ball, although a late DeAndre Yedlin own goal was needed to help get them over the line on that occasion. A similar figure can be expected today, as Cardiff are not exactly known for their love of possession. So far, Chelsea have managed to overcome all different types of opposition.

As well as scraping a 2-1 win away at Newcastle, Chelsea have also brushed aside Huddersfield Town 3-0, edged out Arsenal 3-2 here and defeated Bournemouth 2-0 in their most recent outing. The Blues have had dodgy moments in each of those matches, so it came as no real surprise to hear Sarri claim this week that he expects his side to continue improving as the weeks go by. We are often told that late September is when the season truly gets up and running, after all...

RESULT! The full-time whistle has gone at Wembley, where Liverpool have defeated Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 in the day's early kickoff. What a huge result that is for the Reds, who made it five wins from five in the top flight thanks to goals from Georginio Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino in either half. That lifts the Merseyside outfit to the top of the division, three points in front of Chelsea ahead of their game in hand here.

A quick glance at the pass stats provides a further example of the impact Sarri has had on Chelsea during his first couple of months at the helm. A total of 2,996 passes have been attempted across their first four league matches and 2,677 of those have been completed - the most of any side in the division prior to this weekend's fixtures. That figure will only grow over the next couple of hours, but the big question is whether Sarri's men can find a way through.

DID YOU KNOW? Chelsea have lost just one of their last 51 matches at home to a promoted side in the Premier League - against Bournemouth in December 2015 - and have dropped points in just eight other such fixtures. Meanwhile, Maurizio Sarri could become just the fourth manager to win his first five Premier League matches in charge, joining Carlo Ancelotti, Pep Guardiola and, erm, Craig Shakespeare in doing so.

Jose Mourinho and Guus Hiddink won their four five matches, incidentally, but failed to claim three points in the fifth. So good has this start by Sarri been, he has been tipped by iconic Chelsea midfielder Claude Makelele "to make history" at Stamford Bridge by bringing home a sixth Premier League title. It would be a first major honour for the Italian, who saw his Napoli side slip away in their battle with Juventus in Serie A last season.

As touched upon a little earlier, Chelsea's season really gets going over the next few weeks as they take on Cardiff, Liverpool and West Ham United in the Premier League, as well as facing PAOK in the Europa League and Liverpool again in the EFL Cup. It remains to be seen exactly what Sarri's target is this term - is it to win the title, in the same way that Conte did two years ago, or to simply return Chelsea to the top four and win silverware in one of the cup competitions?

Chelsea have won their opening five Premier League games on three previous occasions, most recently in 2010-11 when going on to finish second, and they will be looking to make that four come 5pm this evening. Maurizio Sarri, meanwhile, could become just the fourth boss to win his first five matches at the helm of a Prem club.

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri celebrates after watching his side beat Huddersfield Town on August 11, 2018© Reuters


Cardiff are tasked with bringing a halt to Chelsea's growing momentum, and they could certainly do with a win of their own. The Bluebirds have drawn two and lost two since returning to the Premier League for just the second time, with those two points enough to just about keep them outside of the relegation zone. Defeat here today, though, and the Welsh outfit will surely drop into the bottom three.

It has been a mixed start to the campaign for Warnock's side on the whole, as they took points off Newcastle United (h) and Huddersfield Town (a), bookended by defeats to Bournemouth and Arsenal. The loss to Bournemouth on the opening day was a real eye-opener, as the Bluebirds did not offer enough to warrant a share of the spoils, but they performed well at times in their next two matches - those two draws - and were unlucky against Arsenal.

Cardiff had gone six hours and 55 minutes without netting a league goal prior to Victor Camarasa's strike against Arsenal - and a well-taken strike it was, too! Danny Ward went on to add a second for City in the second period, but it was all in vain as the Gunners returned from South Wales with all three points - just! The Bluebirds did at least offer an attacking threat, and Warnock has promised more of the same at Chelsea today.

It goes without saying that the Bluebirds' direct style is in complete contrast to Chelsea's under Sarri. Warnock's men have not made the most of their aerially threat so far this term, which is one of the biggest surprises of the season, but Sarri has no doubt drilled his players over the past few days in terms of defending set-piece scenarios. City's best bet of finding a way through today - and that is the target for Warnock - is to win free kicks and corners.

These games against Arsenal and Chelsea are followed up by equally-as-difficult matches against Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur at home and away respectively, while also taking on another of last season's top-seven sides in Burnley. It is a difficult run for Warnock's men, and should they remain outside of the relegation zone come the end of it they will have real hope of avoiding the drop.

Reaching around 37 points is the target for managers, meaning that those fighting relegation will have to pick up the odd point against the division's elite clubs. Cardiff head into this match with the best defensive record of the bottom-eight sides, even accounting for the three conceded last time out, but their two goals scored is among the worst tally in any of English football's top-four tiers.

Cardiff are also now winless in six matches, having also been held to Reading on the final day of the Championship season and lost 3-1 at home to Norwich in the EFL Cup second round last month. That is their longest wait for a victory under Warnock and is also their longest winless streak since going eight games between January and February 2015. Warnock, meanwhile, has drawn five and lost five of his last 10 Prem outings - he has never gone 11 without a win.

PREVIOUS MEETINGS! Chelsea have won 10 of their last 12 league meetings against Cardiff City, including the only two previous Premier League matches in 2013-14. The Bluebirds have lost on each of their last four visits to this ground in all competitions since a 1-0 triumph in the second tier 37 years ago - their only win in nine trips to Stamford Bridge.

With kickoff in West London now just a couple of minutes away, let us check out some pre-match thoughts from both camps.

Maurizio Sarri: "My feeling is that we are not a very solid team in the defensive phase. We can improve and that's what I feel in training. The title challengers? At the moment I can answer Manchester City or Liverpool. We need another step I think to be at the same level. I think so, but I hope not. It's very difficult. The gap last season was 30 points so I think to go above 30 points in one season is very, very difficult. I think we must improve."

Neil Warnock: "The top sides always have a lot of possession so we're going to be under the cosh for a long time, but we've got to find a remedy. We've earned the right to play against teams like Chelsea. It'll be interesting to see how we cope at a packed Stamford Bridge. It's one where we've got to get the best out of what we've got. I don't want to go there and not have a shot on target, but we've got to have players at their best abilities to give them a game."

Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock watches on during his side's 2-0 defeat to Bournemouth in the Premier League on August 11, 2018© Reuters


KICKOFF:  Cardiff City, winless in their last four Premier League away outings, get us up and running at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea now trail Liverpool by three points at the league summit, remember, although they do have this game in hand to play.

No surprise to see Chelsea enjoy plenty of the ball early on here. Cardiff have visited Stamford Bridge twice since the turn of the millennium, losing 4-1 on both occasions. The Bluebirds took the lead on their last visit four years ago.

Manga, a centre-back by trade, gets a cross in from the right that Kepa cannot prevent from deflecting behind for a corner. Ralls takes the corner and Chelsea clear their lines at the second attempt. Positive start for the visiting side.

CLOSE!  The first effort of the afternoon comes via the head of Olivier Giroud, who is back in the side in place of Alvaro Morata. A Pedro cross from the right was there for the Frenchman to attack, but he got under it a little and could only pick out the roof of the net.

Some intricate passing from Chelsea in and around the Cardiff box ends with Kante's pass popping up for Etheridge to collect. The Blues are starting to find their rhythm now, which is not good news for Neil Warnock and his men.

CHANCE!  Manga is pushing high up the pitch to give Cardiff some added threat in the final third. That comes as a cost, though, as Hazard makes the most of the space when the ball is turned over and feeds it through to Alonso, who in turn spots Giroud. The Frenchman could not find the target from close range.

Cardiff are giving a great account of themselves here, winning another corner with 13 minutes on the clock. Sol Bamba got his head to it six yards out, but the centre-back could not direct it on target. That goes down as half a chance.

There is very little between the two sides at this early stage. Chelsea have looked threatening on a couple of occasions, but so to have Cardiff. A long way to go yet, of course, but City boss Warnock will be happy enough.

GOAL!  CHELSEA 0-1 CARDIFF CITY (SOL BAMBA)

Who saw this coming?! Cardiff City lead at Stamford Bridge through a Sol Bamba goal, and it has not exactly come against the run of play! A deep free kick was headed into a dangerous position by Sean Morrison, allowing Bamba to flick it past Kepa from close range.

Sol Bamba celebrates his shock opener during the Premier League game between Chelsea and Cardiff City on September 15, 2018© Reuters


SAVE!  Brilliant save from Neil Etheridge, who has been arguably the Premier League's most impressive goalkeeper so far this season. Kovacic was played through on goal by Etheridge was quickly out and made the save down low, moments after thwarting Pedro.

Cardiff defending for their lives at the moment, getting bodies on the line in the box to keep out a couple of goalbound shots. Chelsea have been dominant since going behind, but Etheridge produced two great saves to keep his side in front.

This is the first time that Chelsea have trailed this season, so we are about to find out a little more about them under Sarri. The Blues are still controlling things, but that is mainly because Cardiff are allowing them to do so after edging in front.

SHOT!  Pedro controls the ball on the edge of the box and, with no real options in the middle, looks to bend the ball out of Neil Etheridge's reach. It was not the worst attempt, with the ball drifting inches wide of the far post.

Kovacic, who failed to take Chelsea's biggest chance yet for an equaliser, is limping after being clattered into. The Blues have now been behind for 10 minutes and, despite being on top since then, are currently struggling for inspiration.

Danny Ward goes up to win the header and is caught by Antonio Rudiger, leading to a stoppage in play. Cardiff are smartly breaking up play - although in fairness to Ward he was clearly hurt in that aerial collision.

Liverpool fans will no doubt be watching events as they unfold at Stamford Bridge, and it is good news for them with a third of the match played. Chelsea have enjoyed 72% of the ball but have yet to find a way past Neil Etheridge.

Chelsea starting to knock on the door now. The ball falls at the feet of Antonio Rudiger, who cannot quite turn it on goal. The Blues win a second corner, from which Eden Hazard wins a free kick from Harry Arter on the edge of the area.

Marcos Alonso takes on the free kick, which was maybe a bit too close to goal. The ball lacks any sort of dip and ends in the away end, where Cardiff's joyful supporters are in dreamland. Around 10 minutes to go until half time here.

This has been a good away showing from Cardiff so far. Warnock promised that his side would not park the bus and, despite being forced back a little over the last 20 minutes, they are looking good value to reach half time with a one-goal lead. Pedro's chipped effort has too much on it.

Cardiff's high press is working wonders, forcing mistakes from Chelsea and seeing the ball remain out of Etheridge's box for a fair few minutes now. No fear from the Bluebirds, but they still have another 50 minutes or so to see through.

GOAL!  CHELSEA 1-1 CARDIFF CITY (EDEN HAZARD)

Pedro blasts high over the bar from a glorious position, but two minutes later Chelsea level up through Eden Hazard's individual brilliance. Olivier Giroud laid the ball off for his teammate, but this was all about the quality of Hazard to knock the ball past his man and then drill it out of Neil Etheridge's reach.

After performing so well in this first half, Cardiff will feel disheartened to go into the break all square. In fairness, though, Chelsea created three or four good opportunities prior to Eden Hazard's leveller.

That really was an impressive goal as far as the visitors are concerned, as they finally showed their class in the final third. Cardiff now need to keep things tight for as long as possible, which they have done well since Hazard's strike.

GOAL!  CHELSEA 2-1 CARDIFF CITY (EDEN HAZARD)

It's that man again! An overlapping Pedro picks out Giroud in the middle, who manages to tee up Hazard at full stretch for the Belgian to tuck the ball home for his second of the afternoon. From a goal down to a goal up in no time at all!

HALF TIME:  CHELSEA 2-1 CARDIFF CITY

Cardiff City with a few corners in quick succession to see out an eventful first half in West London, which they fail to make the most of - Sean Morrison heading over from a decent position from the last of them. Chelsea lead 2-1 at the midway point here.

Maurizio Sarri's only change from the 2-0 win over Bournemouth would prove a decisive one as Olivier Giroud played a key part in both of Chelsea's first-half goals. That was after the visitors had taken a shock lead 16 minutes in, however, as Sol Bamba flicked Sean Morrison's diagonal header past a helpless Kepa Arrizabalaga from five yards out.

Giroud headed onto the roof of the net from a promising position shortly before that Cardiff opener, but better chances would fall the way of Pedro and Mateo Kovacic immediately after the restart. Neil Etheridge was equal to both efforts, producing a fine stop to thwart Kovacic down low when the Croatian midfielder was played clean through.

Another chance would come and go for Pedro, who this time skied the ball unmarked from eight yards out, but Chelsea's pressure would eventually tell. Eden Hazard scored his first of the afternoon 37 minutes in when exchanging passes with Giroud and drilling the ball across Etheridge into the bottom corner, before tucking home a second before the interval after being teed up by Giroud from closer range.

BENCH WATCH!

CHELSEA SUBS: Caballero, Zappacosta, Christensen, Drinkwater, Barkley, Willian, Morata

CARDIFF CITY SUBS: Murphy, Peltier, Richards, Cunningham, Paterson, Zohore, Madine

Eden Hazard scores the Blues' second during the Premier League game between Chelsea and Cardiff City on September 15, 2018© Reuters


KICKOFF:  We are back up and running at Stamford Bridge, where Chelsea lead Cardiff City 2-1. There is news of a change to bring you, as Jazz Richards has come on for Harry Arter at the interval - surely injury related, and that will likely mean a change in formation.

Jazz Richards is a full-back by trade, so he could well tuck into his favoured position. If that's the case, Bruno Manga will move into the middle and Sol Bamba will shuffle into defensive midfield - a position he knows well having played there against Bournemouth.

Eden Hazard's brace towards the end of the first half has turned this game on its head. Cardiff led for more than 20 minutes thanks to Sol Bamba's flicked finish, but since then the Blues have been on top and will argue that they deserve their lead.

Eden Hazard celebrates getting his side's first during the Premier League game between Chelsea and Cardiff City on September 15, 2018© Reuters


CHELSEA SUB! Mateo Kovacic soldiered on for five minutes of the second half, but the knock suffered earlier in the match has taken its toll. Ross Barkley, who was used heavily early in the season, comes on in his place.

Half a chance for Joe Ralls, who is not known for his goalscoring ability. The midfielder readied himself for the shot but could only blast it wide from the edge of the box. Promising start to the second half for winless Cardiff.

Cardiff seeing more of the ball in this second half - although only marginally: 30% compared to 26% in the first half. This is a dangerous scoreline for Chelsea, who really could do with a third to kill off their stubborn opponents.

There has not been a whole lot of action since the restart, truth be told, with neither side able to create a goalscoring opportunity of note. The way this is panning out will suit Warnock, as the match has become a bit stale.

Cardiff have actually looked the more assured of the two sides in possession since the restart. Nearly an hour played at Stamford Bridge, meaning that the two managers will surely consider turning to their benches again soon.

Cesar Azpilicueta's cross from deep is collected by Neil Etheridge, who has not had a great deal to do since Hazard's second goal. Chelsea struggling to get out of first gear now, which is giving their opponents hope.

This second half just has not going at all. Again, that is not such a bad thing for Cardiff as they will fancy their chances of nicking something late on in the game if there is still just the one goal in it.

SHOT!  Chelsea finally manage to create something in the final third, with Antonio Rudiger charging forward and picking out Pedro, who worked a yard of space and sent a shot narrowly wide of the target. Pedro's cross was then turned behind for a corner.

Cardiff unable to get the ball into the opposition half over the last five minutes, as Chelsea tighten their grip on proceedings. Warnock could do with making a change around about now, with the Bluebirds slowly running out of time.

CLOSE!  Bobby Reid has barely had a sight of goal all afternoon, but he so nearly picked out the bottom corner from his first attempt of the game. The forward cut inside David Luiz and curled the ball agonisingly wide of Kepa's target.

CHELSEA SUB! Here is the change that many Chelsea fans expected - Willian on for Pedro in a like-for-like change to give the Blues some fresh legs in the final third. Twenty minutes for Cardiff to find an equaliser.

CARDIFF CITY SUB! Bobby Reid has come to life over the past few minutes, but his afternoon is over as some energy is needed high up the pitch. Enter stage right versatile midfielder Callum Paterson, who also provides an aerial threat.

There is a brief stoppage in play for Sean Morrison to recover after landing awkwardly. Alvaro Morata is given a warm reception as he is sent to warm up. Sarri will likely bring the Spaniard on for Giroud in the next five minutes or so.

Chelsea living a little dangerously now, with just a one-goal lead to protect. Cardiff are getting braver and braver, knowing that they have nothing to lose as we head into the closing stages. Both manager have one more change available to make.

CARDIFF CITY SUB! Neil Warnock decides against bringing on Kenneth Zohore and instead goes with Gary Madine for the final 12 minutes. Danny Ward is the man to make way, meaning a like-for-like change up top.

It may not have been the most entertaining of second halves at Stamford Bridge, but at least it remains delicately poised with 10 minutes left to play. This has been a real test for the Blues, who had to recover from a goal behind.

PENALTY!  Sol Bamba slides in on Willian and does not get the ball, giving the officials an easy decision to make - Chelsea penalty. Jorginho has a great penalty record, but Eden Hazard wants his hat-trick and looks likely to take it...

GOAL!  CHELSEA 3-1 CARDIFF CITY (EDEN HAZARD, PEN)

Just a second ever hat-trick for Eden Hazard in Chelsea colours puts the game out of Cardiff's reach. It was a well-taken penalty, sending Neil Etheridge the wrong way. That will surely mean five wins from five for Sarri.

GOAL!  CHELSEA 4-1 CARDIFF CITY (WILLIAN)

After huffing and puffing for so long, Chelsea have now finally managed to find their top gear. Two minutes after Eden Hazard netted his hat-trick goal, Willian picked out the top corner from range with the goal of the match.

The scoreline is a little flattering for Chelsea, but they have been deserved winners. Yet again the squad depth is clear to see, with Willian winning the penalty and then adding the fourth himself. Things are looking very positive for Sarri.

SAVE!  Kepa makes a good save to keep out Calum Patterson, before the Scotland international went to ground under a challenge from David Luiz. Replays show that Luiz did appear to catch Paterson while the two men were trying to get to their feet.

Had Jonathan Moss pointed to the spot we may well have had a bit more of a game on our hands. As it is, Cardiff are on the brink of a third successive 4-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge in the last eight-and-a-half years.

Had Jonathan Moss pointed to the spot we may well have had a bit more of a game on our hands. As it is, Cardiff are on the brink of a third successive 4-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge in the last eight-and-a-half years.

Zappacosta gets a shot away at the second attempt, but it is a ratehr poor effort and ends wide of the target. Chelsea are looking the more likely to score a sixth goal of the match in the closing stages gere.

FULL TIME:  CHELSEA 4-1 CARDIFF CITY

A second hat-trick in Chelsea colours for Eden Hazard helps the Blues to maintain their perfect Premier League start, as they overcome Cardiff City 4-1 at Stamford Bridge. The Belgian scored twice in the first half to cancel out Sol Bamba's surprise opener, before adding a third from the penalty spot 10 minutes from time. Willian then came off the bench to round off the scoring in style.

That concludes Sports Mole's live text coverage of events from Stamford Bridge. An on-the-whistle report can be found by clicking here, and be sure to stick around for updates from Manchester United's trip to Watford in the late kickoff. Thanks for joining!

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Chelsea's Pedro celebrates scoring against Bournemouth during their Premier League clash on September 1, 2018
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