Pedro ends Bournemouth resistance as Chelsea win again
Eden Hazard also on target Maurizio Sarri’s side maintain their 100 per cent record
Chelsea celebrate after Pedro breaks the deadlock against Bournemouth. Photograph: Eddie Keogh/Reuters
Eden Hazard scored his first goal of the season as Chelsea extended their 100 per cent start to the Premier League campaign with a 2-0 win over Bournemouth.
Chelsea have been crowned champions in four of the five previous seasons in which they won their first four games, but Maurizio Sarri knows there is plenty of work to do for the Blues to be contenders this term.
Pedro put Chelsea ahead after 72 minutes and Hazard netted a second five minutes from time.
Hazard’s long-term future remains in doubt. The 27-year-old was linked with a summer switch to Real Madrid which never materialised, but is stalling over extending a contract which runs until 2020.
A 3-0 win for Bournemouth here on January 31 was a low point of Antonio Conte’s tenure.
Sarri pledged to make Chelsea fun again and tore up Conte’s tactics, saying the Blues would take time to adjust, but the early signs are promising.
Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe had exchanged ideas with Sarri when the 59-year-old was at Empoli and Napoli and tutor overcame student here — but not by much.
Begovic twice denied Willian in quick succession as the hosts began well, only for speculative attempts to get in behind the Cherries’ high line falling short.
Bournemouth’s pace and counter-attack troubled Chelsea and they twice might have taken the lead, with David Luiz culpable on each occasion.
Wilson should have scored after finding space between Antonio Rudiger and Luiz. He met Diego Rico’s fine cross from the left but could only direct the ball over.
Kante has been given more of a roaming brief under Sarri with the arrival of Jorginho as the midfield pivot. The World Cup winner’s direct running and explosive bursts from Mateo Kovacic gave Chelsea forward progress.
Kovacic might have had a penalty, but referee Lee Mason gave the benefit of the doubt to Bournemouth’s Adam Smith after a shoulder-to-shoulder challenge.
And it was from one rampaging Kante run down the right channel that Chelsea came closest to scoring moments before the interval.
Kante found Alvaro Morata, who played the ball across for Hazard. The Belgian checked and fed Alonso, whose bobbling right-footed shot struck the post.
Hazard was quiet early in his first Stamford Bridge start of the season, but grew into the game. He teed up Alonso early in the second half but Begovic was equal to the shot.
Ake then failed to add the decisive touch as a corner bounced in front of him inside Chelsea’s six-yard box. Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga was a mere spectator.
Hazard’s influence was growing but it was substitute Pedro who made the breakthrough.
Alonso fed Pedro, who played a one-two with substitute Olivier Giroud and struck a shot from the edge of the area. It deflected off Steve Cook and went inside the post for the Spaniard’s third goal of the season.
Fraser blasted wide across goal after getting in behind Chelsea, who doubled their lead soon afterwards.
Hazard, on the left, exchanged passes with Alonso and fired a shot under Begovic for his first goal of the season to cap the win.