Watch: Chelsea consolidate top four spot
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Watch: Chelsea consolidate top four spot

Mateo Kovacic is fouled during Sunday's match against Brighton.

Mateo Kovacic is fouled during Sunday's match against Brighton.

Chelsea consolidated fourth place in the Premier League with a 2-1 win at Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday that became harder work than had seemed likely in the first half.

Having won 4-0 at the Amex Stadium last season, they were on course for a repeat after taking a 2-0 lead at the interval.

Eden Hazard set up the first goal for Pedro after 17 minutes and scored the second himself before halftime following a defensive error.

Brighton came back into contention through Solly March's goal midway through the second half and Lewis Dunk went close to an equaliser.

The home side have not beaten Chelsea in any competition since 1933 but they stayed 13th in the table, nine points clear of the bottom three places.

Chelsea moved three points clear of London rivals Arsenal, who were beaten at Southampton.

Hazard, who had been outstanding when scoring twice in the 4-0 January win, made the opening goal with his ninth assist of the season.

Regaining possession after his shot was saved, he played a perfect pass to give Pedro a tap-in.

Brighton contributed to their own downfall 12 minutes from halftime with a poor clearance by Leon Balogun.

Willian intercepted and from his own half sent Hazard through to beat goalkeeper Mat Ryan.

From a position of apparent comfort, Chelsea came under pressure after Marcos Alonso had crashed a shot against the post.

The home team revived, halving their deficit when Bernardo headed back across goal for March to score, but Chelsea held on for an important win.

"We knew we needed to score a third goal, but we didn't and conceded," Hazard said. "You feel the pressure, but we managed the game well.

"We want to be top of the league at the end of the season. We know Man City and Liverpool are good teams and we don't want the gap to be big."

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