Lampard brings Hull back down to earth
Hull City 0 Chelsea 3
Thursday 30 October 2008
This was the match in which Hull's dream start might have stretched the limits of imagination again with a scalp maybe to eclipse even that of Arsenal at the Emirates but Chelsea were in no mood to be part of anyone's fantasies, even those of a record Premier League crowd of almost 25,000 at the KC Stadium.
Goals by Frank Lampard, Nicolas Anelka and Florent Malouda gave Luiz Felipe Scolari's side an emphatic victory but had the scoreline been double or more in Chelsea's favour they would not have been flattered. Phil Brown's team deserve all the respect they have gathered so far in winning six of their opening 10 matches – as many as Chelsea at the game's start – but for all that Hull remain fifth in the table, the gulf between these sides last night was as wide as the Humber.
Their finishing apart, Chelsea played with a quality befitting of their status, with Lampard supreme at the heart of it, drawing superlative praise from Scolari afterwards, both for the speed of thought behind his goal and for the dynamism of his play throughout. "He is the best goalscoring midfield player in Europe, one of the best in the world, and I don't think there is another player who could score a goal like that," Scolari said. "He is so intelligent a player and he seems to be never tired. If he is a contender for world player of the year he gets my vote."
The goal that so excited his manager came less than three minutes into the game. There were mistakes made by the home side but it was Lampard's ability, in a split second, to weigh up an opportunity, make a decision and execute it flawlessly that made the goal, the England player's 99th in his league career, so special.
If there was an obvious culprit it was Boaz Myhill, the Hull goalkeeper, who was just too far ahead of his line to be ready for what was coming.
But then Hull, in general, seemed unprepared for their lines to be pressed so soon by swarming blue shirts and when right-back Paul McShane tackled Malouda but could not get the ball away, it was a good bet that it would run to an opponent. Lampard, ready for a return pass at the edge of the penalty area, assessed the possibilities in an instant and delivered the perfect chip beyond Myhill's reach.
It could have been the cue for the ruthless restating of intent that Chelsea wanted after the shock of losing their long unbeaten home run at Liverpool's hands at the weekend. By half-time, however, two good chances each had fallen to Malouda and Anelka and another to the returning Joe Cole, but none was taken.
Myhill redeemed himself with a fine fingertip save from one Anelka shot but Chelsea were not being decisive enough to make Hull pay.
So Hull reached the break with a chance still that they might find some way in the second 45 minutes to add another thrilling episode to their story, encouraged moreover by creating some opportunities of their own, notably when Daniel Cousin hit an upright with the fluorescently clad Petr Cech beaten, and when Geovanni had the Chelsea goalkeeper scrambling to deal with two long-range free kicks.
But to find a way back though, Hull needed first to make no further mistakes and it was in pursuit of that target that they failed miserably five minutes after the restart as Chelsea at last seized control, courtesy of a genuine gift goal. This time blame attached itself to McShane and centre-back Kamil Zayatte, who stood back in the belief that a hopeful punt out of the Chelsea half would carry through to Hull's goalkeeper only to look on in horror as it pulled up short, allowing Anelka to nip in as Myhill stumbled into the "D" and take the ball wide before rolling it into the unguarded net.
Malouda missed another chance but did score Chelsea's third 15 minutes from the end, sidefooting home from close range after Ricardo Carvalho, popping up on the left flank, supplied the pass to finish another Chelsea move of crisp passing and clever improvisation.
Only an injury late on to Carvalho, and more worries over Joe Cole, marred Chelsea's night.
Goals: Lampard (3) 0-1; Anelka (50) 0-2; Malouda (75) 0-3.
Hull City (4-1-3-2): Myhill; McShane, Turner, Zayatte, Dawson; Marney (Garcia, 71); Geovanni, Ashbee, Boateng (Halmosi, 62); King (Windass, 83), Cousin. Substitutes not used: Duke (gk), Hughes, Mendy, Ricketts.
Chelsea (4-1-4-1): Cech; Bosingwa (Ivanovic, 86), Carvalho, Terry, A Cole; Mikel; J Cole (Belletti, 53), Lampard, Malouda; Deco (Kalou, 78); Anelka. Substitutes not used: Cudicini (gk), Di Santo, Bridge, Alex.
Referee: A Marriner (West Midlands).
Booked: Chelsea J Cole; Deco.
Man of the match: Lampard.
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