LONDON -- Jose Mourinho hailed the "fantastic" form of Eden Hazard after the Belgian bagged a superb hat trick to send Chelsea top of the Premier League with a comfortable win over Newcastle.
The attacking midfielder beat Tim Krul twice in seven first-half minutes to put the Blues in control, and completed his first hat trick in English football from the penalty spot when Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa hauled down Samuel Eto'o.
After the match, Mourinho insisted that the Belgian's feats were no more astounding than his other performances in recent weeks and praised him for adding consistency to his game.
"I think it was not different to other performances he had - the only difference is he scored a hat trick for the first time," the Chelsea boss told reporters.
"It was very similar to the one at Hull, at [Manchester] City, at home against [Manchester] United, against Liverpool, at Southampton - basically the same way. He's playing really well, with a big evolution, consistency, ambition ... fantastic."
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew also found time to praise Hazard after a defeat which leaves his side boasting just one win in its least seven matches.
"He's got a great platform because it's a strong base behind him," the Magpies boss added. "The back four were tough, [Nemnaja] Matic in front of them gives the stability for someone like Hazard to create the damage that he did.
"I thought his second goal was real class and he's at the top of his game. His work-rate and everything else was excellent and that's why he's a top player.
"I've played against Chelsea teams under Mourinho many times and this is as good as he's had. They've got a good chance [of winning the league]."
Arsenal's humiliation by Liverpool at Anfield and Manchester City's failure to beat Norwich City meant that Chelsea's win sent the Blues to the top of the table for the first time since September, but Mourinho was again keen to downplay hopes of the Premier League trophy returning to Stamford Bridge for the first time since 2010.
"I think we are playing well," he remarked. "The first half was not the best example because we had problems but we have been playing well for a long time.
"We are top of the league and that's something we can't hide but I say the same and I feel the same [that Chelsea is not the favorite this season]."