at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
London – Chelsea forward Eden Hazard insists there is no chance he will be kicked out of his stride by the Premier League's boot boys.
Hazard delivered a superb display on his Chelsea debut against Wigan on Sunday as the Belgian created Branislav Ivanovic's opening goal and then won the penalty that Frank Lampard converted minutes later to seal a 2-0 victory.
It was a dazzling introduction to one of the best young playmakers in Europe, but Hazard also saw the ugly side of English football when he was on the receiving end of some brutal tackles.
Hazard, signed from Lille for £32 million ($50.2m) in pre-season, was clattered by several Wigan players, including captain Gary Caldwell, who was booked for one particularly late challenge.
Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo decided 64 minutes of punishment was enough for his new playmaker before substituting him at the DW Stadium.
But Hazard shrugged off his treatment afterwards, insisting it was no worse than he had suffered playing for Lille or against Manchester City in last weekend's Community Shield.
“I already had a taste of these kind of tackles in the Community Shield,” he said.
“I was kicked quite a bit in the first half against Wigan but, in France, it was already like that for me.
“I wasn't aware I was the most fouled player in the match, I wasn't counting them.
“At the start of the game, you could see the way I play and the most important thing is I'm not injured.”
While Hazard earned glowing reviews for his virtuoso performance, he refused to get carried away with his own contribution, pointing out he did not have the same impact after winning the penalty that put Chelsea 2-0 up.
“There are still a lot of things I can do better,” he added. “I lost a lot of balls in the second half, but I contributed what was asked of me.
“I was asked to be decisive and I was, with the penalty and an assist.”
Hazard was nevertheless pleased with how he slotted in alongside Juan Mata, with both playing just off Fernando Torres.
“I started as the number 10 and then afterwards with Mata, we tried to interchange positions rather than stay in the same place and I think we worked rather well,” he added. – Sapa-AFP