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Fulham 1-3 Chelsea Prem 28 1314 Mirror

last updated Sunday 02nd March 2014, 2:37 PM
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Dave Kidd at The Mirror

Fulham (0) 1 Chelsea (0) 3

It's not often a player scores a ­hat-trick inside 16 minutes and everybody leaves the stadium drooling over one of his team-mates.

But Eden Hazard is a footballer who thinks six impossible thoughts before breakfast - and then sets about executing them in a Premier League match.

The Belgian's technique has always been gorgeous yet now his workrate is impressive and his confidence appears limitless.

Jose Mourinho may have given his team the silent treatment at half-time - he was so disgusted with their first 45 minutes, he refused to speak to them.

But Hazard's second-half display was further proof of how he has raised his game under the Special One.

Andre Schurrle doubled his Chelsea goals tally to blow away fragile Fulham with a ­hat-trick in little more than a quarter of an hour.

Yet with two of the assists, and the outstanding moment of the match, Hazard was the real star of the show.

Between the German's first and second goals, Hazard surged down the left, shaped to cross with his left foot, wrapped his right foot around the back of it and sent a pinpoint centre to Fernando Torres at the back stick, which the Spaniard somehow failed to convert.

This particular party trick is known as a 'rabona'. It is usually employed by ­showboaters but Hazard's intent was deadly serious and his execution perfect.

Everyone inside Craven Cottage wished they had a 'live pause' facility so they could rewind the action and ensure their eyes had not deceived them.

Chelsea are now four points clear at the top of the table and, should they finish the job, as Mourinho's teams tend to do, they will not be the most thrilling of Premier League champions.

But in Hazard they have one fantasy ­footballer, capable of dropping jaws and smacking gobs.

Schurrle's performance was schizophrenic. In the first half he delivered the worst ­free-kick seen in the Premier League this season and one of its worst corners too. In the second half, his finishing was simply lethal as he handed his fellow German Felix Magath a beating on his first home match as Fulham boss.

Fulham have been shambling towards the Championship all season and, even though Magath has cajoled decent first halves out of his side in his first two matches, they won neither and do not look a side capable of taking the necessary five or six wins from their final 10 games. Yet for 45 minutes, Magath's men had snapped at heels, tackled with force, harried and hustled the league leaders, who looked sluggish after their midweek trip to Istanbul.

Mourinho was right to be furious with his charges, even though Torres might have scored twice before the break, once capitalising on a dreadful attempted ­clearance form Maarten Stekelenburg and then forcing a fine save out of the Dutchman.

Clint Dempsey, on his final appearance of an unsuccessful loan spell, headed wide early on and Steve Sidwell drilled another off target. But the key moment of Fulham's first half came when Brede ­Hangeland had to be withdrawn after suffering concussion in a clash of heads with team-mate Kieran ­Richardson.

It was to prove decisive when Schurrle started a move deep inside his own half. The ball found Hazard, who played a searching through-ball for the blond German to outpace substitute Dan Burn and score.

"I have never seen a player run 90 metres to score without anyone trying to tackle him before in my career," fumed Magath. He has had quite some career and it truly was that bad a goal from a defensive perspective.

Then came Hazard's wonder cross, before the Belgian beat John Heitinga and slipped Schurrle through with a well-weighted pass for the German to fire inside the far post.

Torres provided the third with some fine hold-up play and Schurrle was clinical again.

"This is what I expect from Schurrle - cold blood in front of goal," said Mourinho.

Heitinga stabbed home a ­consolation goal but Fulham were well beaten - and look to be heading for the ­Championship.

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