Eden Hazard
Hazard was instrumental for Chelsea during their hard-fought win over Stoke at Stamford Bridge.Getty Images

Chelsea captain John Terry has lauded Eden Hazard after the diminutive Belgian provided an excellent individual performance to help the Premier League leaders secure a 2-1 victory over Stoke.

José Mourinho's side, now tantalisingly close to securing their first top-flight title in five seasons, lost striker Diego Costa just 12 minutes after he had been introduced as a substitute at Stamford Bridge but overcame that disappointment with Hazard in typically imperious form.

After nonchalantly dispatching a penalty to give Chelsea a first-half lead, the 24-year-old laid on the winner for Loïc Rémy that ultimately broke Stoke's dogged resistance after they had surprisingly equalised courtesy of a stunning long-range effort from Charlie Adam.

While Adam's wonder goal, scored from within his own half of the pitch, was the key talking point after the match, Hazard was rightfully praised for his own sizable contribution to proceedings that helped the hosts to open up a seven-point gap over in-form Arsenal at the top of the table.

Such compliments were not just restricted to an appreciative Mourinho and fawning pundits, however, with Terry sharing his belief that his teammate's talents merit comparison with star La Liga duo Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

"He was excellent," the experienced defender told Sky Sports as reported by The Independent.

"He has been our best player by a long way this year and in those games when you are looking for a bit of extra, a bit of magic from someone he is the one who steps up and managed to create something. He is up there with the (Lionel) Messi's and (Cristiano) Ronaldo's and can still get better and better."

Hazard, who now has 12 goals and seven assists in the Premier League this season, will surely be one of the frontrunners for the PFA Player of the Year award alongside the likes of Tottenham striker Harry Kane and Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea.

He finished second to Luis Suarez in the running for the prestigious prize in April 2014, although his considerable ability and enormous potential were recognised with the Young Player's award.