Tigers tamed as Chelsea win at Hull to go top of the Premier League

Posted by Mark Worrall

Eden Hazard solo celeb alt Hull ChelseaPA PhotosMan of the Match Eden Hazard soaks up the atmosphere after firing Chelsea in front in style against Hull City on Saturday.

Chelsea surged to the top of the Premier League table with a confident and professional 2-0 victory over a spirited Hull City side at the KC Stadium. Outstanding second-half goals from Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres gave Jose Mourinho's men the points on an afternoon when another Petr Cech clean sheet saw the Blues keeper surpass Peter Bonetti's long-standing record of 209 shut-outs.

With Branislav Ivanovic remaining on the treatment table, there was a balanced look about the Blues defence lining up in front of Cech, with Cesar Azpilicueta playing on the right, Ashley Cole on the left, and Gary Cahill partnering captain John Terry in the centre. Frank Lampard's continued absence gave Chelsea manager Mourinho the opportunity to play David Luiz alongside Ramires in the midfield engine room, a role Luiz excelled at in the recent victory over Liverpool.

Further forward, the dynamic creative trio of Oscar, Willian and Eden Hazard were tasked with providing this week's chosen striker, Fernando Torres, the opportunity to prove his worth as transfer window speculation intensifies that the Blues are set to sign a world-class finisher to lead the line.

An entertaining but goalless first half saw Hull City dominate the early passages of play with Tigers pacey winger Ahmed Elmohamady regularly testing the defensive credentials of Cole and Jake Livermore forcing an early save out or Cech. Settling into the game much better, the home side continued to press and in the 26th minute, when Terry uncharacteristically allowed himself to be chased down by Ahmed Elmohamady, the ball broke loose into the Blues penalty area and Hull striker Yannick Sagbo rifled a first-time shot just wide of Cech's post.

Sagbo's near miss roused Chelsea from the early kick-off torpor that had initially dulled their play, and with the increasingly industrious Luiz asserting himself in the middle of the park, the Blues were now fully on the march. Regularly sweeping the ball forward with pin-point precision, Luiz was instrumental in switching the emphasis of the game and compressing Hull in their own half.

The Tigers had Scottish international goalkeeper Allan McGregor to thank for not going behind in the 33rd minute when a fierce, close-range Oscar strike drew a world-class save from the former Glasgow Rangers man. It was the closest that the deadlock came to being broken, and the first period ended with a scrappy altercation between the sides when Livermore challenged Luiz with an intent the Brazilian deemed malicious enough for him to remonstrate forcibly with his assailant. Fortunately, referee Mark Clattenburg kept order and swiftly drew the half to a close.

After the break, it was business as usual for a now wide-awake Chelsea with Hazard, Willian and Oscar regularly tormenting the Hull backline and forcing a succession of corners that came to nought. Luiz drew another parried save from McGregor with a dipping free kick, but it was Belgium international Eden Hazard who finally rippled the Tigers net for the first time. In the 56th minute, Luiz combined with Cole to play in Hazard, who dropped his shoulder, waltzed into the Hull penalty area D, and belted the ball beyond McGregor. A wonderful goal from a wonderful player in the form of his life.

Visibly buoyant, Chelsea swarmed forward seeking to kill off the game, but as the clock ticked down, in the 79th minute, conscious perhaps of conceding a late equaliser, Blues boss Mourinho brought on John Obi Mikel for Oscar instantly tightening up his midfield. If Mourinho was content to see his charges safely play out the match for the three points, Torres had other ideas. With three minutes left, Willian played in Torres who surged towards the Hull goal with such pace the Tigers defence were mere spectators as he passed them before unleashing a venomous left-footed shot past McGregor.

To the victors the spoils, in the end this was an accomplished Chelsea performance and Jose Mourinho, his players and Blues supporters will take great pleasure from glimpsing the Premier League table which, for 24 hours at least, has the Stamford Bridge club heading the pack.

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