Chelsea needed a late Eden Hazard penalty to maintain their unblemished home record in the Barclays Premier League as the leaders beat Queens Park Rangers 2-1 at Stamford Bridge.
Charlie Austin's second-half equaliser had looked set to deny Jose Mourinho's side a fifth consecutive league win at Stamford Bridge after Oscar had opened the scoring. However, with an under-par Chelsea on course to drop points for the second league game running, Hazard was bundled over by Eduardo Vargas and the Belgian stroked home the winner on 75 minutes to maintain Chelsea's four-point lead at the summit.
Chelsea began well and forced a series of corners early on, with leading scorer Diego Costa, back in the starting XI after a four-game absence due to a combination of injury and illness, almost getting on the end of Cesc Fabregas's long ball four minutes in. Oscar saw a shot roll wide of Rob Green's left post soon after, before Branislav Ivanovic found the side-netting from Willian's delivery.
QPR, whose one change was Junior Hoilett replacing Bobby Zamora, produced their first effort on goal via Austin, whose header looped over the crossbar 15 minutes in. While it was a rare foray into the Chelsea half, Redknapp's side had done well to stifle the hosts and initially deny Oscar, Willian and Hazard space to create openings.
However, after Fabregas's long-range strike had tested Green from distance, Oscar broke the deadlock after 32 minutes courtesy of a sublime finish with the outside of his right boot. Played in down the right by Fabregas, the Brazil midfielder found the net via the inside of the far post to send Chelsea in ahead at the break.
Hazard almost doubled Chelsea's advantage early in the second half but failed to make contact with Willian's cross as Redknapp opted to bring on Zamora for Hoilett just short of the hour.
Within two minutes of the change, QPR were level thanks to Austin's fifth Barclays Premier League goal of the season. Following a swift counter from Vargas, Austin was able to divert Leroy Fer's strike past Thibaut Courtois with a backheel.
Mourinho opted for an attacking change as Didier Drogba replaced Willian, but it was the ever-dangerous Hazard who was the match-winner. Having been brought down by Vargas, the Belgium playmaker sent Green the wrong way from the spot to get Chelsea back to winning ways in the league after their 1-1 draw at Old Trafford last time out.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho: "I didn’t think we played a good game. Obviously QPR comes for a point and comes in a very well organised team by the defensive point of view. But we didn’t play well consistently.
"So I enjoy the result and think the team that had the chances and the ball and the dominance deserves to win.
"Even with the result 1-0 against teams like QPR you don’t feel safe because they don’t have the ball, they don’t play attacking football but certainly they put one ball in the box and that moment two strikers, second balls and set pieces, anything can happen.
"Not a very good performance from us but very very important to win matches when you don’t play well."
Queens Park Rangers manager Harry Redknapp: "We played well against Liverpool and we've played well against Chelsea. But to get no points from the two games is obviously disappointing.
However, there's lots of positives. We showed a great attitude and I think we have got enough to stay in this division."
|22 Nov 2014||v West Brom (H)|
|08 Nov 2014||v Liverpool (A)|
|29 Nov 2014||v Sunderland (A)|
|03 Dec 2014||v Spurs (H)|
|06 Dec 2014||v Newcastle (A)|
|13 Dec 2014||v Hull (H)|