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

Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvRicky Gervais on the return of 'Derek' – and why he still ignores his critics
Sport
Vito Mannone fails to keep out Samir Nasri's late strike
sportMan City 2 Sunderland 2: Goalkeeping howler allows Man City to scrap a draw – but Premier League title is Liverpool's to lose
Sport
Gareth Bale dribbled from inside his own half and finished calmly late in the final to hand Real a 2-1 win at the Mestalla in Valencia
sport
Life & Style
Infant child breast-feeding with eyes closed
scienceTo stop mummy having any more babies, according to scientists
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
news
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
News
David Cameron sings a hymn during the enthronement service of The Most Rev Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, at Canterbury Cathedral last year
news
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey gets the North Korean leader's look
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
Arts & Entertainment
Don (John Hamm) and Megan (Jessica Paré) Draper are going their separate ways in the final series of ‘Mad Men’
tvReview: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
News
peopleRyan Gosling says yes, science says no. Take the A-list facial hair challenge
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
Life & Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 63rd anniversary of the Peak District National Park
tech
News
Paul Weller, aka the Modfather, performing at last year’s Isle of Wight Festival in Newport
people
Life & Style
Michael Acton Smith founded Firebox straight out of university before creating Moshi Monsters
techHe started out selling silliness with online retailer Firebox, before launching virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
News
Ethical matters: pupils during a philosophy lesson
educationTaunton School's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success
Arts & Entertainment
Play It Forward: the DC Record Fair in Washington, US
musicIndependent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads on Record Store Day
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal