Chelsea’s interim manager Guus Hiddink has said Eden Hazard’s first goal of the season will help the winger return to his best.
Hazard scored a second half penalty, ending a run of 29 club appearances without a goal, during the 5-1 FA Cup defeat of MK Dons to set up a home meeting with Manchester City in the fifth round.
The Belgium international was making his first start since picking up an injury at Crystal Palace four weeks ago and after struggling for form during the opening half of the season, Hiddink believes the player is ready to put a difficult first half of the season behind him.
Hazard was handed the chance to break his barren run when he was brought down in the 55th minute and urged to take the penalty by captain John Terry and his teammates
“He has had a difficult time, with injuries,” Hiddink said.
“We have a hierarchy for penalties, with Oscar at the top, but they gave him this penalty. So it’s good for him to score.
“He’s coming back now after a long absence, and he needs the rhythm of these games. He had more than an hour to help his rhythm, and that’s a help for the upcoming games.”
Alexandre Pato was in the stands at Stadium MK to watch his new teammates after completing a six-month loan move from Corinthians on Friday.
But Hiddink said he will have to assess the fitness of the Brazilian and fellow new signing Matt Miazga, the US centre-back, before deciding when to integrate the players into his squad.
“He has practised one light session with us, but I want him to integrate as much as possible, as we have with Miazga. They worked today on their physical condition,” Hiddink said.
“Tomorrow they have a bureaucratic things to do, and then we’ll try to build him up as soon as possible. I want to have more data and my eye on him, how he is. He was in pre-season, so I don’t want to force it. I don’t want to press it.”
A first half hat-trick from Oscar laid the foundations for Sunday’s win with Bertrand Traore completing the scoring with his first Chelsea goal.
Darren Potter replied for the Championship side.
Chelsea are now unbeaten in eight games under Hiddink and the Dutchman is satisfied they are making progress.
"The players have responded very well to the way we are working," said Hiddink, who was speaking before Terry announced he'd be leaving Chelsea at the end of the season.
“It was important to get some results. There were draws in the beginning, and the standard of this club means we need more than draws, but we have to find some security at first.
“And now we are moving into the area of victories. The players responded. There is quality in the team, but also the will to do, also, a very disciplined, tactical work as we demand.
“That’s more in the direction of the defensive, well-organised work they do. And not just the defenders, but also the creative players working hard. That’s benefiting the team.”
MK Dons manager Karl Robinson admitted Chelsea were a class above his second division side.
“They were outstanding. They’ve turned the corner, unfortunately for us. They showed tremendous class here today. There was a gulf in class and, when that class turns up and performs with that appetite and hunger, they are outstanding.”
Follow us on Twitter @NatSportUAE
Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/TheNationalSport