'I am a leader' – Hazard rejects Sarri comments after inspiring Chelsea to Carabao Cup final
The Belgian winger produced a star turn against Spurs at Stamford Bridge on Thursday, proving to the Blues boss he has the qualities to lead
Chelsea attacker Eden Hazard insists he aims to be a leader every time he steps out onto the pitch, rejecting Maurizio Sarri’s recent criticism of him.
The Blues secured their place in the Carabao Cup final with a penalty shootout victory over Tottenham, after a thrilling second leg at Stamford Bridge on Thursday.
Sarri’s side were 1-0 down from the first leg, but they levelled the aggregate score with a 2-1 win in normal time, thanks to goals from N’Golo Kante and Hazard.
After neither side could find a winning goal in extra time, Chelsea came out on top in the shootout, with David Luiz netting the decisive penalty to spark wild scenes of celebration among the home faithful.
Hazard was deployed in his favourite position on the left-hand side of the front three and his dynamic performance was the catalyst for Chelsea’s success.
The Belgium international was the subject of criticism from Sarri at the start of the week, as the Italian questioned Hazard’s ability to lead as part of a team.
After Thursday’s game Hazard was asked if he felt like a leader, to which he responded defiantly: “I always say that on the pitch I’m a leader. I think I am a leader.”
Chelsea will now look forward to facing off against Premier League champions Manchester City in the final at Wembley on February 24, with their opponents aiming to win the trophy for a second successive year.
Hazard also added that he was pleased with his own display against Spurs, before looking ahead to an FA Cup fourth-round tie against Sheffield Wednesday on Sunday.
“My job on the pitch is to just do what I can do so I am happy,” he stated. “We have two days now to recover for Sunday which is also a tough game.
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“The boys deserve today. We played the best game and we deserve it.”
Sarri’s men are now well placed to challenge for silverware on three fronts while also fighting to secure a top-four Premier League finish and Champions League qualification.
Chelsea are back in Premier League action just three days after hosting Sheffield Wednesday, with a trip to Bournemouth on the cards as the fixture list begins to pile up.