Hazard-watch: How did new Chelsea star perform?
We take a close look at Eden Hazard’s performance for Belgium against England at Wembley ahead of the young playmaker’s much-hyped move to Chelsea this summer.
The main focus of England’s final home match before jetting off to the European Championships was Roy Hodgson’s final preparations for the tournament, but Hazard’s presence also attracted a fair bit of attention.
The 21-year-old is one of the most talked-about young prospects in Europe, and spent a great deal of time linking himself with several top Premier League sides before finally revealing he would be moving to Stamford Bridge in a deal worth £32 million.
Despite being the name on everyone’s lips, few fans in England had seen Hazard in action before Belgium’s visit. Ligue 1 matches are not broadcast live in the UK, and Lille’s Champions League fixtures were hardly big draws for many other than supporters of the French champions and their opponents.
So England’s friendly against a hugely talented group of young individuals who could not combine to seal a place in Poland and Ukraine was a timely opportunity for most English fans to see what all the fuss was about.
In a team of no genuine out-and-out strikers – Romelu Lukaku was named on the bench – Hazard was often the furthest player forward for the visitors, although he would regularly switch positions with fellow forwards Moussa Dembele, Dries Mertens and Kevin Mirallas.
Hazard is only 5’7”, but he spent much of his time with his back to goal helping Belgium keep possession and providing a crucial link in attack. He exhibited great technique and plenty of one and two-touch contributions as he kept the ball moving, though opportunities for him to show why he scored 20 goals and set up another 16 in Ligue 1 last season were in short supply.
Belgium were by far the better side in terms of the football they played and the possession they kept, and yet they left Wembley as 1-0 losers.
Here is a complete rundown of Hazard’s playing contribution against England, offering a glimpse as to what Chelsea fans can expect next season.
1’ Receives ball from Marouane Fellaini – who towers over him at almost a foot taller – and sprays ball wide to left wing.
3’ Deft backheel as he plays one-two with Moussa Dembele
5’ Swift turn and surge at England box leads to Belgium’s first corner. Showed he is not afraid to run at England’s defenders, in this case future Chelsea team-mate Gary Cahill.
7’ Tries a give-and-go in midfield but the ball is intercepted by Steven Gerrard.
12’ Impudent flick back inside from left wing as Belgium try to build a counter-attack.
13’ Casually strolls around in centre-forward position as England defenders have the ball.
There is a long break in play for Gary Cahill’s injury and Joleon Lescott’s subsequent introduction.
21’ Turns and helps play spread from left to right on counter-attack. Slips over but shows good poise to regain feet and make the pass.
23’ Expertly guides Fellaini’s flick-on into path of Kevin Mirallas out wide.
26’ Plays slick one-two with Dries Mertens down the left which leads to nasty foul on Mertens by Johnson. Swings in right-footed free-kick which causes problems and leads to corner. Left-footed delivery of that set piece is cleared.
28’ Switches to right of front three with Mirallas coming into the centre. Another neat one-touch exchange with Fellaini.
31’ Cuts in around Ashley Cole and tries to take the long way around him, drawing a foul from another new Chelsea team-mate. Subsequent free-kick is charged down by one-man wall.
33’ Moves to left of three with Fellaini in the centre. Sees little action.
39’ Shields ball from Lescott on right-hand side. Turns away from him but runs into Cole.
40’ Stays back at a corner. Clearance comes to him. Shot from 30 yards bounces in front of Joe Hart and is easily caught by the goalkeeper.
41’ Spins on right-hand edge of box and loses two England players. Shows great control before pinging a low pass across to Axel Witsel but the move fizzles out.
43’ Quick exchanges between Hazard, Mertens and Jan Vertonghen keep the ball moving quickly, but a misplaced pass from Hazard sees the attack break down.
45+1’ Quick passes swapped with Mertens but one too many between the two of them and they lose possession.
50’ Receives ball down right channel. Holds off Cole but Lescott puts it out for a throw.
51’ Plays part in build-up around edge of England box that leads to poor Vertonghen effort.
60’ Makes the most of a hard-but-fair tackle from John Terry. Referee waves play on.
61’ Hits curling effort on goal from 20 yards. Another simple catch for Hart.
62’ Makes most of England losing possession by slipping ball to Fellaini inside area.
63’ Drops deep on left and plays ball inside, which seems to take Dembele by surprise and the Fulham midfielder loses it.
64’ Stays out on left to get the ball from Fellaini to Vertonghen.
65’ Helps keep pressure on edge of England box by squaring from left to Dembele in the middle. Move ends in poor cross from right.
69’ Back in a central position, spreads ball wide to substitute Nacer Chadli, whose cross gets the better of Hart.
71’ Tests newly-introduced England substitute Phil Jagielka by chasing after a ball that is the defender’s to lose. Jagielka tidies up but the point is made.
76’ Neat control and turn on corner of area. Crisp pass to Romelu Lukaku which leads to the substitute’s shot being blocked.
80’ More neat one-touch passing from Hazard around England box, but Belgium’s lack of cutting edge again shows.
81’ A flashy stepover as he faces Jagielka before again squaring a crisp pass, this time to Fellaini, whose shot is blocked.
82’ Pushes ball down left to Lukaku. Goes past him on the overlap and gets ball back. Cuts inside and fires high and wide of far post from just inside the box.
90’ Skips over desperate sliding challenge from Walcott as he bursts down left.
90+1’ Tracks back to stop Walcott’s run down the flank after failing to win the ball from him. Best bit of defensive work from Hazard all afternoon.
90+3’ Plays lovely first-time ball around the corner that releases Fellaini, whose pass to Lukaku finds the striker in an offside position to deny Belgium would have been their best scoring opportunity.