22nd of January 2017

Home win over Tigers keep Blues up on top (2-0)

The Blues moved eight points clear at the top of the Premier League table as goals from Diego Costa, on his 100th Chelsea appearance, and Gary Cahill, helped us overcome a stubborn Hull City.

The goals came in each half, but for much of the opening 45 minutes Blues were forced to be patient as the visitors defended in large numbers and made it difficult.

Diego Costa's opener came in the seventh minute of added time after an injury to Ryan Mason following a clash of heads with Cahill had delayed play.

Chances proved hard to come by once again after the break, but the introduction of substitutes Cesc Fabregas and Willian had a significant impact, with the Spaniard teeing up Cahill to score our second in the 80th minute.

Diego Costa was quickly into the action and almost gave us the lead after just 10 seconds when David Luiz’s long ball forward was headed into his path. The striker chested it down and sent his volley inches past Eldin Jakupovic’s right-hand post.

The visitors were next to go close, after eight minutes, when Tom Huddlestone dragged his left-footed drive just wide from outside the box.

There was cause for concern moments later when Cahill and Mason went down after clashing heads while challenging for a Pedro cross, and while the Chelsea defender was back on his feet relatively quickly, the Hull midfielder required substantial medical treatment before leaving the field of play on a stretcher to be replaced by David Meyler.

It was Hull quickest into their rhythm following the lengthy break in play, and defender Harry Maguire headed straight into the arms of Thibaut Courtois from Evandro’s corner when he should probably have done better.

Having netted a brace at Leicester last week, Marcos Alonso was almost on target again but his deflected strike from the edge of the penalty area was well saved by Jakupovic when the ball appeared to be dipping under the bar.

We were slowly beginning to come to life as an attacking force and after Alonso and Eden Hazard had linked up well inside the box, Pedro saw a penalty appeal waved away when he was bundled over by Evandro.

Hazard was gradually having more of an influence but the Belgian had his work cut out with two or three opponents surrounding him every time he picked up possession.

As the half edged towards a conclusion Courtois was forced to produce a fine save, pushing away a fierce Maguire drive which swerved in the air.

Given the earlier stoppage, it was no surprise when nine minutes added time were signalled, but the Blues were struggling to break down a resolute Hull defence and seriously test Jakupovic.

Five minutes into added time a decent opportunity came our way as Pedro slipped in Alonso, the wing-back’s cross was an inviting one but Moses was unable to apply the decisive touch.

From our next attack, however, the breakthrough eventually came and it was the returning Diego Costa who popped up with the opener.

Diego Costa, he drilled his strike into the back of the net.

The away side were first to threaten after the break and Courtois did well to thwart Huddlestone with a smart save low down to his right.

Diego Costa then saw his strike, which was hit on the turn, deflected behind following a quick counter attack involving Hazard and Pedro.

Diego Costa looked lively and after seeing a well-executed volley charged down his low drive from outside the penalty area was then saved by Jakupovic after he’d shifted the ball onto his left foot.

In the 55th minute applause rang around Stamford Bridge in memory of lifelong Chelsea fan Carl O’Brien, a regular at the stadium who sadly passed away in December.

With just one goal separating the sides Hull remained well and truly in the game, and after we struggled to deal with a corner and the ball found its way to Michael Dawson, Courtois saved at the near post to thwart the defender.

Conte decided it was time to make a change and with 21 minutes remaining Fabregas and Willian replaced Hazard and Pedro.

Fabregas took up a position just in front of Kante and Matic, with Willian operating as a second striker in a 3-5-2.

With 10 minutes left on the clock, and with Hull sensing they could still get something from the game we made it 2-0, with both substitutes playing a part.

A brilliant burst of speed by Willian out on the left led to the Brazilian being brought down by Meyler. Fabregas took the free-kick, and as the Spaniard delivered to the far post, Cahill rose highest to glance his header home.

Moments later we should have put the game to bed when Fabregas put Diego Costa through, but the striker saw his effort blocked by the legs of Jakupovic.

The striker departed with five minutes left, replaced by Michy Batshuayi, and received a wonderful ovation following a superb display.

All in all, it's been a significant weekend for the Blues, with only Arsenal of the chasing pack taking maximum points.

Next up in the Premier League is the small matter of a trip to Anfield on 31 January.

- Match stats:

Chelsea (3-4-3): Courtois; Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Cahill (c); Moses, Kante, Matic, Alonso; Pedro (Willian 69), Diego Costa (Batshuayi 85), Hazard ( Fabregas 69).
Unused subs: Begovic, Ake, Zouma, Chalobah,
Scorers Diego Costa 45+7, Cahill 80
Booked Kante 42

Hull City (3-4-2-1): Jakupovic, Maguire, Dawson (c), Davies (Niasse 59), Elabdellaoui, Mason (Meyler 20), Huddlestone, Robertson; Evandro, Clucas; Hernandez (Diomande 74).
Unused subs: Marshall, Tymon, Maloney, Bowen.
Booked Dawson 6, Davies 25, Robertson 51

Referee Neil Swarbrick
Crowd 41,605

- Match report by chelseafc.com

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