Chelsea were made to work hard for a win on the south coast on Saturday afternoon, beating AFC Bournemouth by the lone goal. Eden Hazard's strike just after half-time proved the difference for Chelsea in a 1-0 win at the Vitality Stadium.
Hazard's first goal of the season separated the two sides despite Chelsea dominating most of the proceedings.
Frustration for the visitors
After a fairly even first 20 minutes, the first real chance fell to the visitors as Asmir Begovic's woeful clearance fell to Hazard, who played in Álvaro Morata, but the Spaniard's shot was dragged wide of the near post. Just before the half-hour mark, Chelsea thought they had opened the deadlock as a corner found César Azpilicueta, whose shot was saved before Morata tucked home the rebound. Unfortunately for the Blues, the flag was up for offside and the replay showed it was ever so tight.
Antonio Conte's side continued to push for the opener and came close after 34 minutes, but Morata's shot is saved expertly by Begovic to keep the score level at 0-0.
Chelsea's first half performance wasn't spectacular, but they were unlucky not to be ahead after threatening Bournemouth's goal on multiple occasions.
Embed from Getty Images
Hazard hammers home
The visitors didn't have to wait too long in the second half to get their reward with Eden Hazard breaking the deadlock after 51 minutes. Morata's looped ball over the top of the defence fooled Steve Francis, allowing Hazard to ghost in behind and hammer a shot past Begovic at the near post to make it 1-0.
Bournemouth responded well to the goal, coming out of their shell and almost hitting Chelsea back immediately. Junior Stanislas teed up substitute Jordan Ibe on the edge of the box, but the winger fired narrowly over the crossbar. Hazard should've had a second after the hour mark after wonderful link up play between the Belgian and Pedro saw the former in a good position, but sky the opportunity over the bar.
The hosts' best chance of the game came with 15 minutes to go as Ibe's low cross found Callum Wilson, but Azpilicueta got across well to block the effort from close range. Chelsea could've put the tie to bed inside the final ten minutes as Hazard found Fabregas inside the box, but the midfielder's shot curled high and wide of the far post.
The final chance of the game could've re-written the headlines, but Lewis Cook's powerful shot from the edge of the area was fairly simple for Thibaut Courtois.
A strong effort from Bournemouth at the back, but Eddie Howe's side failed to really test the Chelsea defence and were punished by Hazard's powerful near-post shot. A well-deserved three points for Antonio Conte's men with AS Roma in the Champions League coming up. Meanwhile, Bournemouth will prepare for Newcastle United next weekend.