LONDON – Belgian playmaker Eden Hazard assisted on two goals on Sunday in leading Chelsea to a 3-0 victory over visiting Watford in Premier League action.
Chelsea moved into third place, with 71 points, and has a one-point advantage over Tottenham Hotspur, which fell 1-0 to Bournemouth on Saturday, and five points ahead of fifth-place Arsenal, which is to play Brighton and Hove Albion later in the day.
The London side is now one step away from securing a qualifying spot in the UEFA Champions League next season, pending the last matchday scheduled for next week.
After a scoreless and boring first 45 minutes at Stamford Bridge stadium, Chelsea started the second half with the pedal to the metal.
Within a 127-second stretch, Hazard set substitute Ruben Loftus-Cheek and David Luiz up for the first two goals.
The Belgian star sent a cross, following a corner kick he had just won, with which Loftus-Cheek connected with a header for a 1-0 Chelsea lead in minute 48.
Then, totally unmarked Brazilian defender Luiz doubled the hosts’ lead in minute 51 with another header off a corner-kick cross set by Hazard as well.
Hazard is the PL’s assists leader this season at 15, one more than Bournemouth midfielder Ryan Fraser.
Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain struck home a close-range half-volley shot off a clever through pass from Spanish teammate Pedro, sealing Chelsea’s 3-0 win in the 75th minute.
The Blues’ last PL encounter of the season will be on the road against Leicester City on May 12, but before that Chelsea will host Germany’s Eintracht Frankfurt in the second leg of the Europa League semis; the first leg of the semifinal finished with a 1-1 draw.
In other PL action on Sunday, last-place Huddersfield Town denied visiting Manchester United’s early lead as the clash ended in a 1-1 draw; the tie finished the Red Devils’ hopes of qualifying for the CL next season.
United midfielder Scott McTominay opened the scoring just eight minutes into play, while Belgian forward Isaac Mbenza drew his club level at the one-hour mark.
With the tie, United stayed in sixth place in the standings, with 66 points, four points behind the fourth spot with just one match to go before the finish line.
While Man United will not play in the Champions League next season, the club has secured a Europa League berth.