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

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders