WIGAN - Eden Hazard showed why he is regarded as one of the brightest young stars in Europe as the Belgian forward inspired Chelsea to a 2-0 victory over Wigan at the DW Stadium on Sunday.
Belgium international Hazard, chased by a host of top clubs before settling on a move to the European champions, set up Branislav Ivanovic's early opener and then won a penalty converted by Frank Lampard as Roberto Di Matteo's men got their league campaign off to a solid start. It took man of the match Hazard only two minutes to show the poise and vision that should make him such a hit in English football. Hazard picked up the ball 40 yards out with his back to goal before turning his man and finding the marauding run of Ivanovic who was in acres of space with new Wigan signing Ramis having been pulled towards Hazard.
Serbian defender Ivanovic thundered into the penalty area and drove his shot past Ali Al Habsi to open the scoring. Ramis, a signing from Real Mallorca, was at fault for Chelsea's second goal as well as the brilliance of Hazard came to the fore again.
The diminutive forward twisted and turned inside the Wigan penalty area before bringing a needless challenge out of Ramis that conceded a spot-kick. Lampard stepped up to tuck away the seventh-minute penalty as his drilled effort flashed under the diving Al Habsi. Hazard's magic was controlling the game, but he got a rude awakening from Wigan defender Gary Caldwell, who bulldozed into the Belgian in the centre of the pitch and got a yellow card for his troubles.
That didn't rattle Hazard though and he continued to show an array of clever runs, flicks and dribbles. Wigan were in shock and had to ride out a couple more Chelsea attacks before they finally settled into the encounter. The Latics won nine of their last 11 Premier League games to beat the drop last season, so they know a thing or two about digging in when the going gets tough. Roberto Martinez's men could have had one back when Emmerson Boyce crossed for Franco Di Santo, but the former Chelsea striker's header crept just over. Wigan forward Victor Moses gave Chelsea a reminder of why they are chasing him as he gave Petr Cech his first real work of the afternoon, but the Blues keeper managed to palm the Nigerian's shot away for a corner.