Hull City 0 Chelsea 2 match report: Eden Hazard’s masterclass in finishing opens up Chelsea’s route to the top

Hazard dazzled the Hull defence before firing in from outside the box to break the deadlock with Fernando Torres adding a second late on

KC Stadium

There was a moment after a victory which took Chelsea to the top of the Premier League for the first time since September that Jose Mourinho was effectively asked to praise the once-again outstanding Eden Hazard.

“The club made a big investment in him last year,” Mourinho said. “To bring a player from France and pay the amount Chelsea did was because Chelsea liked the player and now the player is not any more a talented kid, he is now more than that, he is a player who feels and accepts the responsibility; he feels and accepts that a team player is more than a talented player. Without losing his fantastic ability and fantastic talent he is giving us other things. This is a very good moment of his career.”

The Chelsea manager could have been setting out the template for anyone who plays for him. Mourinho rarely misses a trick. Afforded the opportunity to praise the dazzling individuality of Hazard, who produced another memorable goal in the 56th minute of what had previously been a tight game, he instead reiterated the importance of the team; a team he again was at pains to remind us was one that has finished sixth and third in the last two seasons.

“It is a different team and it is a different Premier League [to when he last won it],” Mourinho added. “It is important, it is good to be top, it helps the players to be better and to be stronger and to grow faster. When you are 20 points behind the leader you have no pressure. We could do better. We lost some points that we shouldn’t. It could also be worse. Not a five out of ten, not a ten. Seven, seven-and-a-half, eight. Around there.”

 

Fernando Torres had confirmed victory, late on, with a smart finish, but Chelsea would have gone ahead just past the half-hour but for a superb piece of goalkeeping from Allan McGregor.

His outstanding moment had come in the 34th minute. The move from Chelsea was neat, clever and incisive. Ashley Cole delicately chipped the ball to Hazard on the left side of the Hull penalty area, the Belgian crossed low to Oscar and the unmarked Brazilian had the time to take a touch before firing a right-foot shot that seemed certain to give Mourinho’s side the lead. McGregor, however, produced a breathtaking reaction save with his left hand to tip the goal-bound shot over his crossbar. The opening half had also seen Alex Bruce deflect a Fernando Torres shot away for a corner when the Spaniard broke.

Those chances, however, did not reflect just how well Hull had done in the early stages, something Mourinho later praised. Petr Cech had to stand strong to deny long-range efforts from Ahmed Elmohamady and Jake Livermore and he would have been powerless in the 26th minute when a mistake by John Terry allowed Yannick Sagbo the opportunity of a one-on-one with the Czech goalkeeper. Sagbo, however, chose to shoot for goal with his right foot, when his left looked better suited and the golden chance was gone.

He would be given a master class in finishing by Hazard early in the second half.

David Luiz began the move, playing the ball to Cole, just outside the Hull penalty area. The left-back’s flick was clever and from there Hazard first went past James Chester, then Alex Bruce, but such was his level of control that he made sure he was free from Bruce with another clever dummy that left the defender grounded, before drilling a low right-footed drive into the bottom corner of McGregor’s goal.

It was Hazard’s 10th Premier League goal of the season from the wide forward role in which he has flourished. He had caused similar problems with an earlier dazzling run but the warning had not been heeded.

“Three consecutive times he has won the man of the match, which is something nice,” added Mourinho. “Let’s see if the Premier League decides to give him the player of the month.”

For Hull City, a dipping free-kick by Tom Huddlestone from a tight angle was as close as the home side would come.

Instead, Chelsea added a second goal through Torres who, after another indifferent afternoon, finally produced a moment of quality as he took a pass from Willian and drove past Bruce before drilling a left-footed shot into the corner of the Hull goal.

“The quality of Hazard was there for everyone to see,” said Steve Bruce, who confirmed a bid had been accepted for the Everton striker Nikica Jelavic.

“We found it very difficult in the second half. As I kept saying to my players, when you take on the big boys and you keep giving them the ball they are going to punish you. When you chase it, it becomes stretched. We have done particularly well but we are only at the halfway stage. We have a difficult four months to go but we have made a hell of a start to life in the Premier League.”

Line-ups:

Hull City (4-5-1): McGregor; Chester (Fryatt, 77), Bruce, Davies, Figueroa; Elmohamady, Livermore, Huddlestone, Meyler (Koren, 67), Boyd (Quinn, 83); Sagbo.

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Azpilicueta, Cahill, Terry, Cole; Ramires (Essien, 89), Luiz; Willian (Schürrle, 84), Oscar (Mikel, 69), Hazard; Torres.

Referee: Mark Clattenburg.

Man of the match: Hazard (Chelsea)

Match rating: 6/10

Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game