Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri said Eden Hazard may be the best player in Europe, after the Belgian scored a hat-trick as the Blues went top of the Premier League with a 4-1 victory over Cardiff.
Hazard scored twice in seven minutes before half-time, after Sol Bamba volleyed home for the visitors, to help Chelsea make it five wins from five so far this season.
He scored his third with a late penalty after Bamba brought down Willian, who added the Blues’ fourth from long range.
Saturday’s victory means Chelsea have started a Premier League season with five successive wins for the fourth time, and first since 2010.
Defeat for Cardiff extends their winless run to six games, their worst spell since Neil Warnock was appointed manager in October 2016.
They started well at Stamford Bridge, and deserved the lead given to them by Bamba, but Chelsea’s quality ultimately shone through.
The Blues have five points more than at this stage last season, but Sarri still wants his side to improve as they prepare for a busy two weeks during which they face second-placed Liverpool twice – in the league and EFL Cup.
He said: “I am very happy with my players. But I always think we can do better. We are very dangerous in the offensive phase but we aren’t as solid defensively as I want. I think we can improve quickly, though.
“I think at the moment Liverpool and Manchester City are another step up, so we have to improve, and I hope next season we can be on the same level.”
Reds burn Spurs
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said his side deserved their “big result” as they beat Tottenham to win a fifth straight league game at the start of the season for the first time since 1990.
The Reds emerged impressively from their biggest test so far at Wembley with a victory that was far more emphatic than the final scoreline suggests and keeps them level on points with Chelsea, who are top of the Premier League table on goal difference.
Georginio Wijnaldum scored his first away league goal since joining Liverpool – technology adjudging his header to have crossed the line despite the attempts of back-up Spurs keeper Michel Vorm to clear.
The visitors were dominant almost throughout and doubled their advantage after 54 minutes when Roberto Firmino scored from on the line after Jan Vertonghen turned Sadio Mane’s cross on to his own post.
Andrew Robertson and Lucas Moura hit the woodwork for either side but the Reds could and should have made this a more convincing win, with Naby Keita and Mane missing chances to add to their goal tally.
Erik Lamela pulled one back for Spurs deep into stoppage time and Son Heung-min saw a late penalty claim turned down after he was brought down by Mane but it was all too late and Liverpool’s triumph was fully deserved.
“What a game from my boys – that was really, really good,” Klopp said. “If we win at Tottenham it’s a big result.
“Tottenham are one of the best teams in world football, and to come here and perform like that after the international break… I didn’t take that for granted.
“We were defensively good, offensively good, and the performance was better than the result. It was perhaps a bit nervy at the end but no problem. I have nothing to be critical about today. If you win games and you’re not 100% with the performance it’s still three points – I like that. It’s a deserved result.”
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said: “I am not disappointed – the game showed how competitive the Premier League is and we played a really good team who started very well.
“In the second half we made mistakes but we were pushing. The goals we conceded came from our own mistakes, but I am calm.
“After we beat Manchester United at Old Trafford I said we still need to improve, and I’m still saying that.” By BBC