Premier League
ChelseaChelsea3BrightonBrighton & Hove Albion0

Chelsea 3-0 Brighton & Hove Albion: Stylish Blues brush aside Seagulls

By Emlyn BegleyBBC Sport
Ruben Loftus-Cheek
Ruben Loftus-Cheek has scored in two consecutive games for Chelsea

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri says he is "lucky" to have so many squad options as a new-look side cruised to Premier League victory over Brighton with three excellent goals.

Olivier Giroud flicked home Callum Hudson-Odoi's cross before Eden Hazard curled home from the edge of the box from Ruben Loftus-Cheek's pass.

Loftus-Cheek then scored an excellent 25-yard strike into the top corner to seal victory.

All three goals involved players who have played more minutes in the Europa League than the Premier League this season.

"After 50 matches it's very difficult to play every three days," Sarri told BBC Sport. "We needed to change. We're lucky because Callum is doing very well. Loftus has no problem with his back for the first time this season. Giroud is in a good period."

The Blues, who have won their past 10 games against the Seagulls since 1967, move up to fifth in the league.

Next up for Chris Hughton's Brighton is Saturday's FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City.

Unfamiliar Premier League faces stake their claims

'Wonderful' Chelsea goals please Sarri

Teenager Hudson-Odoi made his first Premier League start - having already won two caps for England - and showed quick feet to skip by Anthony Knockaert before rolling the ball across the box for Giroud to cleverly finish at the near post.

Giroud, making his first league start of 2019, is the top scorer in this season's Europa League with nine. This was only his second league goal.

Sarri - who has long resisted calls from Chelsea fans to involve Hudson-Odoi more - now admits the 18-year-old is ready to be a first-team regular.

"Callum played very well and defended very well," the manager said. "He has improved during the season a lot. He's ready to play 90 minutes in very important matches."

Chelsea side were in control without scoring a second until Hazard popped up. The Belgian, back in the starting line-up after being surprisingly rested against Cardiff on Sunday, ran on to Loftus-Cheek's pass before cutting inside Lewis Dunk and scoring from 16 yards out.

Three minutes later roles were reversed when Hazard picked out England midfielder Loftus-Cheek who curled a beautiful effort home from long range.

Loftus-Cheek has scored five Premier League goals this season in only two starts and 16 substitute appearances.

The Blues - who have won six out of eight games in all competitions - are now only behind Arsenal and the Champions League places on goal difference.

On this form, Sarri - who has been accused of tactical inflexibility all season - could struggle to justify dropping Hudson-Odoi, Loftus-Cheek and Giroud next week.

Brighton fail to shine in FA Cup warm-up

Moments of brilliance changed game - Hughton

There had been suggestions Hughton could make wholesale changes three days before his side's first FA Cup semi-final in 36 years, but he resisted the urge with only four switches from their defeat by relegation rivals Southampton. Brighton are not safe from drop yet, five points above the bottom three.

The manager said before kick-off it was a chance for players to "stake a claim" for Wembley, but in truth nobody shone and they were deservedly beaten - although they did defend well in stages.

They managed only one shot on target, a long-range effort from Bernardo, with fellow substitute Knockaert - on for the injured Solly March - shooting wide in injury time.

"The quality can wear you down," said Hughton after the game.

"For good periods we were very much in the game. Anthony Knockaert had our best chance of the game late on. It wasn't like we gave up, which is important. I can't fault what the players gave."

Man of the match - Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea)

Ruben Loftus-Cheek
At 23, Ruben Loftus-Cheek needs to be starting regularly. An eighth goal of the season and an assist will make it hard for Maurizio Sarri to drop him

Match stats - Chelsea match Wimbledon's record

  • Chelsea have won all eight of their league meetings with Brighton, the joint-best 100% win rate against an opponent in English league history (also 8/8 for Wimbledon v Bournemouth).
  • Brighton have lost all 10 of their Premier League away games against 'big six' sides, scoring just two goals in those matches.
  • Hudson-Odoi has been directly involved in nine goals in his nine starts for Chelsea, scoring four and assisting five.
  • He is the youngest player to provide an assist on his first Premier League start for Chelsea (18 years 146 days).
  • Giroud has been directly involved in eight goals in his last five starts for Chelsea, scoring six and assisting two.
  • Hazard has been directly involved in 16 of Chelsea's 32 Premier League goals at Stamford Bridge this season (nine goals, seven assists), over twice that of any other player at the club.
  • Loftus-Cheek scored and assisted in a game for the first time ever.

What's next?

Brighton face City in Saturday's FA Cup semi-final (17:30 BST) as they bid to reach their first final since 1983. Chelsea host West Ham in a Premier League derby next Monday at 20:00 BST.

Line-ups

Chelsea

Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Arrizabalaga
  • 28AzpilicuetaSubstituted forZappacostaat 73'minutes
  • 27Christensen
  • 30David Luiz
  • 33Emerson
  • 7Kanté
  • 5Jorginho
  • 12Loftus-CheekSubstituted forKovacicat 82'minutes
  • 20Hudson-Odoi
  • 18Giroud
  • 10E HazardSubstituted forWillianat 84'minutes

Substitutes

  • 2Rüdiger
  • 8Barkley
  • 9Higuaín
  • 13Caballero
  • 17Kovacic
  • 21Zappacosta
  • 22Willian

Brighton

Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Ryan
  • 2Bruno
  • 4Duffy
  • 5Dunk
  • 3Bong
  • 24Pröpper
  • 6Stephens
  • 8Bissouma
  • 16JahanbakhshSubstituted forBernardoat 75'minutes
  • 10AndoneSubstituted forMurrayat 70'minutes
  • 20MarchSubstituted forKnockaertat 31'minutes

Substitutes

  • 7Kayal
  • 11Knockaert
  • 17Murray
  • 19Izquierdo
  • 27Button
  • 30Bernardo
  • 33Burn
Referee:
Graham Scott
Attendance:
38,593

Match Stats

Home TeamChelseaAway TeamBrighton
Possession
Home68%
Away32%
Shots
Home17
Away3
Shots on Target
Home4
Away1
Corners
Home7
Away1
Fouls
Home5
Away9

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Chelsea 3, Brighton and Hove Albion 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Chelsea 3, Brighton and Hove Albion 0.

  3. Post update

    Attempt missed. Anthony Knockaert (Brighton and Hove Albion) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Lewis Dunk with a through ball.

  4. Post update

    Foul by Davide Zappacosta (Chelsea).

  5. Post update

    Bernardo (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  6. Post update

    Foul by Davide Zappacosta (Chelsea).

  7. Post update

    Glenn Murray (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  8. Post update

    Willian (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  9. Post update

    Foul by Gaëtan Bong (Brighton and Hove Albion).

  10. Substitution

    Substitution, Chelsea. Willian replaces Eden Hazard.

  11. Post update

    Attempt missed. Eden Hazard (Chelsea) right footed shot from the right side of the box is too high. Assisted by Callum Hudson-Odoi.

  12. Substitution

    Substitution, Chelsea. Mateo Kovacic replaces Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

  13. Post update

    Attempt saved. Bernardo (Brighton and Hove Albion) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Davy Pröpper.

  14. Post update

    Corner, Brighton and Hove Albion. Conceded by Andreas Christensen.

  15. Post update

    Foul by Andreas Christensen (Chelsea).

  16. Post update

    Glenn Murray (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  17. Substitution

    Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion. Bernardo replaces Alireza Jahanbakhsh.

  18. Substitution

    Substitution, Chelsea. Davide Zappacosta replaces César Azpilicueta.

  19. Post update

    Eden Hazard (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  20. Post update

    Foul by Davy Pröpper (Brighton and Hove Albion).

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