Eden Hazard was repeatedly polluted, shoved and hacked at his first start of the season in the Premier League. On one occasion, he was even kicked off the field by a particularly rough challenge.
So the Chelsea ahead reacted in the best possible way to be targeted with rough handling: by scoring a goal.
Hazard converted a 77th minute penalty to set Chelsea on the road to a 2-1 victory in Newcastle in an embarrassing one-sided game at St. James' Park, and a third consecutive win to open the season.
The three runs were only secured for Chelsea due to an 88-minute goal of Newcastle defender DeAndre Yedlin, but few could deny Chelsea the victory.
And Hazard, in particular.
"I feel very tired," Hazard said with a wry smile, after being asked about his treatment by the Newcastle players. "But at the end we won the game."
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Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri had suggested that Hazard might only play for an hour, with the Belgian international team returning fit after a late return after his efforts at the World Cup in Russia.
As it turned out, Hazard played the full 90 minutes against Newcastle and was as a magnet for the ball – and for tricky tackles from Newcastle players. Mohamed Diame chopped him twice in the first half, and one mistake by Matt Ritchie bundled Hazard from the playing surface and the billboards.
Hazard, however, laughed last and will thrive in the offensive, property-based approach adopted by Chelsea under Sarri.
Chelsea had 79% possession of the ball in the first half. At a certain point in the second half, the percentage rose to 90, with Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez apparently telling his players to withdraw when Chelsea had possession.
"I have never seen a Rafa Benitez play with five defenders," said Sarri, who replaced Benitez in 2015 as coach of Italian side Napoli. "I think it is very difficult to play here for every team – not just us."
Yet Chelsea needed a fortune to finish with a third win, after earlier victories against Huddersfield and Arsenal. Yedlin, who set up Joselu for the equalizer in the 83rd minute, stretched his leg to block a shot from Marcos Alonso in the 88th and put the ball into his own net.
Newcastle has one point from three games.
Since Newcastle stumbles early in the season, one question seems particularly relevant: why did Aleksandar Mitrovic let go?
Serbia's striker has been one of the most impressive strikers in the Premier League so far and moved three goals for the season with a double for Fulham in the 4-2 victory over Burnley.
He also hit the post with a fierce shot that bounced back to Andre Schuerrle, who threw the ball home for the exciting fourth goal in Craven Cottage. Jean Michael Seri also scored for Fulham, with a race attempt from outside the area.
Mitrovic was not trusted in Newcastle by Benitez, who was happy to see the rush to Fulham leave for a reported fee of $ 28.9 million.
WATFORD & # 39; S STRONG START
Many had expected Liverpool and Chelsea to reach the maximum points after three games. Few would have thought that Watford would be there next to them.
With Watford, Crystal Palace beats 2-1, it is only the fourth time in its 137-year history that the team has won the first three games of a league season and the first time in the Premier League.
Roberto Pereyra, with his third goal of the season, and Jose Holebas scored to give Watford two goals. Wilfried Zaha pulled one back for Palace.