Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has taken his time to unite Eden Hazard with Alvaro Morata but it was worth the wait.

Normally a result as significant as this one is enough to send a message of intent to rivals at home and abroad. After all, Chelsea are the first English club to win at Atletico Madrid in the Champions League.

But it was the manner in which they achieved it which caught the eye,  particularly the sight of Hazard and Morata combining in attack.

This was the first time the duo have started a game together for Chelsea, yet it looked like they had been playing alongside eachother for years.

Conte’s cautious approach to Hazard’s reintegration into first-team football, following a fractured right ankle  sustained in June, has been the cause to the delay.

The Italian did not want to risk such a key player suffering further complications in what promises to be a long season on four fronts.

Morata, who joined Chelsea from Real Madrid for a club-record £58million in July, has not exactly got off to a slow start at Stamford Bridge while Hazard has been working his way back to full match fitness.

Six League goals in as many matches is probably more than the Blues hoped for and yet one suspected his game could reach another level once Hazard was alongside him on the pitch. At the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium, the duo were finally paired from the outset and Atletico simply could not cope.

With Hazard drifting into all areas of the pitch to make menacing runs or fancy flicks, Morata was not quite as outnumbered by opposition defenders as he has been in the first six weeks of the campaign.

ES Analysis: Aletico Madrid vs Chelsea

It is not that Pedro and Willian have done a bad job — they are good players in their own right — but Hazard is an attacking midfielder who provokes genuine fear, even against a team as experienced as Atletico Madrid.

In the first eight minutes, Hazard had set Morata up to have a good shot at goal on two occasions — both went wide of the far post.

The second of those efforts betrayed their natural understanding. A first-time back heel from Hazard put Morata in on goal — the move could have only worked if both knew what the other was thinking.

So it was no surprise when the duo were responsible for the equaliser after 59 minutes — cancelling out Atletico’s undeserved half-time lead gifted to them by a foolish penalty conceded by David Luiz.

A sublime cross from Hazard was met with the deftest of headers by Morata at the near post and the Atletico fans were silenced.

It was a measure of the quality of the goal that the rest of the Chelsea players split up to celebrate with the creator and the scorer. It was the only occasion Conte’s men did not work in unison all night.

“Eden played a very good game and as a team we did a good game together,” N’Golo Kante told Standard Sport. 

“We know Atletico are a very good team, they did well in the last few years by reaching two finals and a semi-final. To play against them was a good test. We did well and deserved to win.”

Neither man was on the field when Michy Batshuayi provided the winner with the last kick of the game. 

Conte had withdrawn his star men, clearly with Saturday’s Premier League game at home to Manchester City in mind.

But Chelsea’s manager, who deserves a lot of credit for outwitting counterpart Diego Simeone tactically, could barely contain his excitement over how well the duo had performed.

He said: “They showed we deserved to play these games. We must be very happy because Hazard’s performance was amazing.

“It was the first big game for him after his injury. His answer was fantastic and positive. He had a great link with Morata.”

It must have made for awkward viewing for former Chelsea striker Diego Costa sitting up in the stands.

Costa finally got what he wished for this week, in securing a transfer from Chelsea to Atletico, only to see his last club outplay the new. And with Morata playing like this, Chelsea are not missing him at all.

Unlike his predecessor, Morata is also happy to talk to the media and was refreshingly modest about his role in the victory.

“It is easy to play with a player like Eden,” the  24-year-old said. “He is one of the best players in the world.

“I am happy but the most important thing is to win.”

Source: https://www.standard.co.uk/sport/football/chelsea-duo-eden-hazard-and-alvaro-morata-strike-up-brilliant-partnership-as-pair-start-together-for-a3645721.html