Premier League
Chelsea3Brighton0

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

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

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'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

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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

  • 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

  • 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

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

Full Time

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

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.

Foul by Davide Zappacosta (Chelsea).

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

Foul by Davide Zappacosta (Chelsea).

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

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

Foul by Gaëtan Bong (Brighton and Hove Albion).

Substitution

Substitution, Chelsea. Willian replaces Eden Hazard.

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

Substitution

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

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.

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

Foul by Andreas Christensen (Chelsea).

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

Substitution

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

Substitution

Substitution, Chelsea. Davide Zappacosta replaces César Azpilicueta.

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

Foul by Davy Pröpper (Brighton and Hove Albion).

Substitution

Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion. Glenn Murray replaces Florin Andone.

Attempt missed. N'Golo Kanté (Chelsea) right footed shot from very close range is too high. Assisted by Eden Hazard with a cross.

Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Lewis Dunk.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match Yves Bissouma (Brighton and Hove Albion) because of an injury.

Callum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Yves Bissouma (Brighton and Hove Albion).

Attempt missed. Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by N'Golo Kanté.

Goal!

Goal! Chelsea 3, Brighton and Hove Albion 0. Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea) right footed shot from outside the box to the top right corner. Assisted by Eden Hazard.

Goal!

Goal! Chelsea 2, Brighton and Hove Albion 0. Eden Hazard (Chelsea) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

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

Foul by Anthony Knockaert (Brighton and Hove Albion).

Foul by Emerson (Chelsea).

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

Attempt saved. Callum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea) header from the right side of the six yard box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Jorginho.

Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Gaëtan Bong.

Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Bruno.

Second Half

Second Half begins Chelsea 1, Brighton and Hove Albion 0.

Half Time

First Half ends, Chelsea 1, Brighton and Hove Albion 0.

Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Shane Duffy.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Man City32262483216280
2Liverpool32247172195379
3Tottenham322111060342664
4Arsenal31196665392663
5Chelsea32196755342163
6Man Utd32187761431861
7Wolves32138114039147
8Watford32137124747046
9Leicester32135144243-144
10Everton32127134542343
11West Ham32126144148-742
12Bournemouth32115164358-1538
13Crystal Palace32106163843-536
14Newcastle3298153142-1135
15Brighton3196163246-1433
16Southampton3189143550-1533
17Burnley3296173759-2233
18Cardiff3284202861-3328
19Fulham3345243076-4617
20Huddersfield3235241859-4114
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