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
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

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?
Season's finale brings the end of an era for top coaches and players across the continent

The end of an era across the continent

It's time to say farewell to Klopp, Clement, Casillas and Xavi this weekend as they move on to pastures new, reports Pete Jenson
Bin Laden documents released: Papers reveal his obsession with attacking the US and how his failure to keep up with modern jihad led to Isis

'Focus on killing American people'

Released Bin Laden documents reveal obsession with attacking United States
Life hacks: The innovations of volunteers and medical workers are helping Medécins Sans Frontières save people around the world

Medécins Sans Frontières's life hacks

The innovations of volunteers and medical workers around the world are helping the charity save people
Ireland's same-sex marriage vote: As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?

Same-sex marriage

As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?
The underworld is going freelance: Why The Godfather's Mafia model is no longer viable

The Mafia is going freelance

Why the underworld model depicted in The Godfather is no longer viable