BY PAUL LAGAN
Christian Pulisic scored the perfect hat-trick as the Blues tore Burnley apart with clinical finishing to win 4-2 at Turf Moor this evening.
Brazilian wing-man Willian scored the fourth but it was American Pulisic that secured the three points that puts the west Londoners into fourth place in the Premier League with 20 points, level with Leicester City who have a better goal difference.
Burnley rallied late on to score twice – the first on 86 minutes saw Jay Rodriguez, arguable notched up the goal of the game with a dipping, blistering 25 yarder that gave Kepa no chance. And with a minute left Dwight McNeil breached the Chelsea defence with a low drive that took a slight deflection off Fikayo Tomori.
Pulisic, 21, was given the start his patience deserved and he rewarded head coach Frank Lampard for the chance with a left-footer, and right-footer and finally a header -the perfect three goals.
It was his first goals for the Blues since his £58million move from Borussia Dortmund in January where he was loaned back to the German outfit until the end of the season.
The Blues started off well, and on five minutes, excellent passion while moving the ball forward, saw William try a left-footer from just outside the Burnley penalty area. However the effort was wayward and went high over Nick Pope’s crossbar.
Burnley, by contrast perfectly executed their defensive play – six men at then back whenever the west Londoners inched across their half-way line.
This made piercing their rearguard particularly difficult.
On the break Burnley showed attacking potential, Dwight. McNeil, on 19 minutes racing clear and shooting at an angle. Kepa was equal to the task. But it was a breakaway by Christian Pulisic, on 20 minutes at saw the Blues take the lead.
The American snatched possession of the ball, raced into the Burnley penalty area, on the left on 21 minutes, and screwed a low, left-footer across Pope’s desperate dive and into the net.
This prompted the home side to push forward, and on 25 minutes Kepa had to make an instinctive one-handed saw while diving the other way to thwart Erika Pieters shot which took a deflection off Mateo Kovacic along the way.
Pulisic, a £58million signing from German outfit Borussia Dortmund in January, almost double the lead, but his pinpoint volley was well parried away to safety by Pope.
Ashley Barnes missed a golden chance for the Clarets when he failed to get his had to a hear-post ball after Kurt Zouma missed the chance to clear the ball.
Seconds before the half-time whistle, Pulisic smashed home number two. Willian snatched the ball just inside the Burnley half, and passed to Pulisic.
He took three touches, while racing towards goal. The third took the ball slightly wide to the right. But he managed to crash the ball goal-bound from the edge of the penalty area. The daisy-cutter took a wicked deflection off Ben Mee and zipped past Pope.
There were no changes by either side at half-time.
The home side were unlucky a minute after the restart, Pieters, on the left sent in a left byline cross that smacked off Kepa’s face and away fo a corner. The goalkeeper was unsigned by Kurt Zouma in front of him who again failed to intercept the ball.
Barnes could have got a goal back on 50 minutes but he scuffed a volley straight to Kepa, having beaten the Chelsea offside trap.
There was no stopping the American and on 56 minutes he as the man on the spot to receive a cross by Mason Mount. He back-flicked a header from close range that arrowed past Pope, giving the goalkeeper no chance – the perfect hat-trick, left foot, right foot, header.
Chelsea fans went into delirium a minute later when William picked up a ball from Tammy Abraham. The Brazil wide man struck a brilliant right-footer into the far corner of Pope’s net to make it number four for the visitors.
Head coach opted to bring on Reece James for Marcos Alonso on 63 minutes – Cesar Azpilicueta moved across the back for to left back to allow James to play in his preferred roughy back position.
He was straight into the action, making a double block to foil the home side.
Chelsea were awarded a penalty on 76 minutes when substitute Callum Hudson-Odoi went to ground. VAR suggested that the winger dived and referee Michal Oliver brandished a yellow card .
But TV replays also showed that Matthew Lowton put a hand onto his back.
Rodriguez took advantage of a turnover from a Chelsea attack to thump home a 25-yarder that dipped over Kepa’s head and crashed into the back o0f the net.
McNeil’s goal gave the home side something to cheer about and the vain inglorious hope of a sensational comeback – but it didn’t happen
Either way it was the only blots on a Chelsea copybook that has seen them win seven matches in a row.
Chelsea face Manchester United in the Carabao Cup at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, before taking on Watford in the league, away on Saturday.
Teams: Chelsea; Kepa, Alonso, Jorginho, Abraham, Willian, Zouma, Kovacic, Mount, Pulisic, Azpilicueta, Tomori
Subs, Caballero, Pedro, Giroud, Hudson-Odoi, Batshuayi, James, Guehi
Burnley; Pope, Lowton, Cork, Tarkowski, Mee, Barnes, McNeil, Hendrick Westwood, Rodriguez, Pieters
Subs: Hart, Taylor, Brady, Lennon, Bardsley, Vydra, Long
Referee: Michael Oliver