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Hazard scouting report: Chelsea forward shows glimpses of brilliance for Under-23s

Date Posted,August 25, 2017

Eden Hazard showed glimpses of class as he returned for Chelsea Under-23s in their 3-0 defeat to Everton on Friday night, while Antonio Conte watched from the stands.

The Belgian, who broke his ankle playing for his nation in a World Cup Qualifier against Estonia back in June, was understandably quiet as the game got underway in Aldershot.

It wasn’t Hazard’s first match back for the Blues, he played half a youth game against Queens Park Rangers behind closed doors at Cobham last week.

But he was tentative for the first 20 minutes and failed to make any impact on the game while in a number 10 roll. There were odd times he found himself in possession, and immediately sprayed the ball out to the wings, but found himself coming deeper and deeper in order to do so.

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Antonio Conte kept a close eye on the 26-year-old from the stands (Image: Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

On 10 minutes he showed a moment of quality, flicking the ball out wide to Josh Grant to put in a cross that came to nothing.

Chelsea went behind on 18 minutes through a Joseph Colley own goal – the first time they have trailed all season, but it was the boost the Belgian needed as he found his feet within the game and started to get on the ball more often.

Switching to more of an inside left position, Hazard increasingly became a threat to Everton, and had some joy cutting in on his right foot while standing up defenders.

Hazard was injured playing for Belgium against Estonia (Image: Getty Images)

He was chopped down on 20 minutes but got back to his feet, showing no signs of concern over his ankle injury, and throughout the game didn’t pull out of a challenge.

And then on the half hour mark produced his most impressive bit of play after picking the ball up on the edge of the area, worming his way around three defenders before being taken down in the area. The referee wrongly failed to award the Belgian a penalty, who quickly got back to his feet with a smirk.

Later he produced more intricate play on the edge of the area, dribbling round defenders in a cluttered box and playing one-twos.

Hazard looks to have fully recovered from the ankle injury he sustained in June (Image: Twitter/hazardeden10)

In the second half he was seemingly involved in nearly every bit of attacking play, as Chelsea attempted to get themselves back in the game before falling two behind when Beni Baningime hit the back of the net with a long-range shot, and later three, when Oumar Niasse scored.

Conte would have been holding his breath midway into the second half, as Hazard came out of a challenge second best and was caught on the top of the foot.

The Belgian got back to his feet but was limping around the pitch for a short while before seemingly shaking off the impact injury.

The Chelsea forward will be back to his best in no time (Image: Reuters)

His final contribution to the match, before being replaced by Jacob Maddox on 75 minutes, saw him test the keeper with a shot that was well saved.

In all, Conte will be pleased with the forward’s return to action. Sure, some of his passes were a little wayward, and the 26-year-old was indeed lacking a yard of pace, but, perhaps most importantly, his ankle looked strong.

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