Tag: Eden Hazard

Premiership: Chelsea 1-0 Man Utd

Chelsea moved to within two wins of reclaiming the Premier League title after Eden Hazard’s goal gave them a narrow victory over Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.

Hazard’s first-half finish gave Jose Mourinho’s side three points and means that victory in forthcoming games at Arsenal and Leicester City will return the title to Stamford Bridge for the first time since 2010.

Chelsea were pushed all the way by a resurgent United, hunting a seventh successive Premier League victory.

Wayne Rooney and the recalled Radamel Falcao came closest for United but once again they fell victim to the resilience and defensive strength that is Chelsea’s trademark under Mourinho, assisted by the brilliance of Hazard, and ended frustrated.

The reaction of Chelsea’s players as referee Mike Dean sounded the final whistle, celebrating wildly in front of their supporters, suggested they believed this was the victory that has pushed them to the brink of glory, as they moved 10 points ahead of second-placed Arsenal.

And now, even if they do not wrap it up in these next two games, surely nothing can stop Mourinho winning the title in his second season after coming back to Stamford Bridge.

As for United, this defeat may have ended their recent winning streak but they once again produced compelling evidence that they are now a very different proposition from the side that struggled, even though they were grinding out results, earlier this season.

Read more at BBC Sport

Premiership: Hull 2-3 Chelsea

Thibaut Courtois was indebted to Loic Remy after his late winner extended Chelsea’s Premier League lead over Manchester City to six points.

The visitors went two goals ahead after Eden Hazard fired in and Diego Costa curled in his 20th of the season.

But Hull replied with two goals in 74 seconds as Ahmed Elmohamady slid in before Abel Hernandez took advantage of an error by goalkeeper Courtois.

Substitute Remy then beat Allan McGregor to score with his first touch.

The goal, which sneaked through McGregor’s legs, papered over an inconsistent display from Jose Mourinho’s side, who went from awesome to awful in the space of 28 first-half minutes.

Courtois will be mightily relieved at Remy’s strike after the Belgium goalkeeper failed to control Branislav Ivanovic’s back pass, inadvertently gifting the ball to the onrushing Hernandez for the equaliser.

And the French striker could become an important figure in the title run-in after he replaced the injured Costa, who had a hamstring problem.

Read more at BBC Sport

Champions League: Chelsea 2-2 PSG (PSG win on away goals)

Chelsea crashed out of the Champions League on a stormy night at Stamford Bridge as Paris St-Germain reached the last eight on away goals after extra time.

PSG came from behind twice to take revenge for last season’s quarter-final exit at the hands of Chelsea – showing great character to play for the last hour of normal time and the added 30 minutes without talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic after he had been sent off for a foul on Oscar.

In an ugly eyesore of a match punctuated by fouls and contentious incidents, Gary Cahill’s late goal looked to be sending Chelsea through until their former defender David Luiz thumped home a header to send this last-16 tie into extra time.

Once more Chelsea went ahead through Eden Hazard’s penalty following Thiago Silva’s handball but PSG’s Brazilian defender made amends perfectly with another superb header six minutes from time to give coach Laurent Blanc’s side the progression they deserved.

While PSG complained about Ibrahimovic’s red card – and the reaction that saw nine Chelsea players crowd referee Bjorn Kuipers – Chelsea suffered injustices of their own as Diego Costa was denied a clear first-half penalty when he was fouled by Edinson Cavani.

As a series of running battles broke out, Costa was fortunate to stay on for a shove on Marquinhos, having been booked earlier for a wild lunge on Silva – the game degenerating into a niggly, fractious affair.

For Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho, who sets such store by the Champions League having won it with Porto and Inter Milan, this will be a devastating blow but he can hardly make a case that his side were unlucky after such a flat performance, even with a numerical advantage.

And now the Premier League, so often boasting its status as the greatest in the world, faces the prospect of a Champions League wipeout at the last-16 stage with both Manchester City and Arsenal also fighting against the odds after home defeats by Barcelona and Monaco.

Ibrahimovic had been on the periphery of a game that had plenty of slick passing without cutting edge – but he was the central figure as he received his red card after 31 minutes.

The giant Swede arrived late in a 50-50 challenge with Oscar, leaving the Brazilian writhing on the ground in agony.

Referee Kuipers produced the red card while surrounded by almost the entire Chelsea team, excluding the stricken Oscar and keeper Thibaut Courtois, who had arrived at the scene en masse.

If PSG were harbouring a sense of injustice, they were fortunate to escape twice in quick succession, first when Luiz appeared to catch Costa with an elbow off the ball and then when the striker was clearly tripped by Cavani in the area, only for penalty appeals to be ignored.

Cavani now carried the responsibility for getting the goal PSG required but he was guilty of a dreadful miss as the hour approached, doing everything right to round Courtois only to strike the near post from an angle with the empty goal beckoning.

It could have proved an expensive miss and PSG’s frustration only increased when they were convinced Costa should have received a similar sanction to Ibrahimovic when he flattened Silva and was fortunate to receive just a yellow card.

Their misery seemed complete when Cahill put Chelsea ahead nine minutes from the end of normal time with a goal that mirrored the game. It was a scrappy affair as PSG failed to clear a corner after keeper Salvatore Sirigu saved from Ramires, and Costa’s sliced attempt on goal fell kindly for Cahill to lash home.

Chelsea’s fans thought this would be enough but reckoned without the spirit of PSG and they took this frenetic tie into extra time as Luiz beat Branislav Ivanovic to a corner to send a thumping header high past Courtois.

PSG’s good work looked to have been undone by that handball by Silva as he contested an aerial challenge with Chelsea substitute Kurt Zouma, resulting in a penalty that was calmly converted by Hazard.

Silva was the man who made amends with a towering header from a corner seconds after he had been denied by a magnificent Courtois stop from a similar effort.

Chelsea wilted visibly and PSG, who are second in Ligue 1, saw out the game without further alarm to spark wild scenes of celebration among their thousands of supporters inside Stamford Bridge.

Read more at BBC Sport

Premiership: West Ham 0-1 Chelsea

Chelsea followed up their Capital One Cup victory with a hard-fought 1-0 win on their return to Premier League business at West Ham.

Jose Mourinho won a first trophy of his second spell as Blues boss with a 2-0 win over Tottenham on Sunday and Chelsea remain well placed to add a first Premier League title in five years.

The Hammers had one win in 17 against the Blues entering the contest but refused to be cowed by the leaders and deserved more, only for Eden Hazard’s first-half header to settle the contest, keeping Chelsea five points clear of second-placed Manchester City.

Mourinho spoke of short celebrations after the Wembley win and captain John Terry insisted they had been postponed until the end of the season, when he hoped there would be further cause to party.

Yet at times it appeared as though Chelsea’s defenders had a hangover as the pace of Enner Valencia, Diafra Sakho and Stewart Downing found holes.

Terry was booked for pulling down Valencia in the first half and cautious thereafter, with Chelsea indebted to a number of fine saves from the restored Thibaut Courtois – namely from Cheikhou Kouyate and Sakho – as the Hammers pressed forwards.

Ramires struck a post on the counter-attack and had a header well saved by Adrian, while Willian spurned a late chance for a second to settle the contest.

The Hammers now have one win in 11 league games to slip further down the standings – and Sam Allardyce appears to be running out of time to convince his bosses to extend his contract, which expires at the end of the season.

Chelsea’s players, meanwhile, have two days off before resuming preparations for next week’s Champions League last-16 second leg with Paris St Germain.

Read more at ESPN

Premiership: Aston Villa 1-2 Chelsea

Chelsea extended their lead at the top of the table to seven points after seeing off an Aston Villa team who finally ended their Premier League goal drought after 11 hours.

With nearest rivals Manchester City held at home by Hull, Branislav Ivanovic’s winner secured a vital victory for the leaders.

Villa, who had not scored in the league since 20 December, responded well after falling behind to Eden Hazard’s early goal and levelled through Jores Okore’s header at the start of the second half.

But Ivanovic restored the Blues’ advantage after 66 minutes and they went on to secure Jose Mourinho’s first win at Villa Park at the sixth attempt.

The spirit Villa showed in defeat will be scant consolation for Paul Lambert’s struggling side, whose winless run now stands at nine league games, but it appeared they were heading for a far worse defeat when Hazard opened the scoring after eight minutes.

That goal was scored far too easily from Villa’s point of view, with their defence being carved apart as Oscar escaped down the right and fed Willian, who found Hazard running into the area to slot home.

Villa’s main tactic in Lambert’s 100th league game in charge seemed to be to fire a succession of crosses into the box, despite that fact their out-of-form target man Christian Benteke was dropped to the bench and Gabriel Agbonlahor did not offer much of an aerial threat in his place.

Blues keeper Thibaut Courtois gave them hope when he flapped at a couple of deliveries but Chelsea remained comfortable and even created further chances to extend their lead.

That all changed after half-time, when Villa finally found a way to hurt Mourinho’s men.

Carles Gil had already shown some neat touches before slipping past Oscar on the by-line and lifting in a perfect pass for Okore to power home a downward header.

The goal brought wild celebrations from Villa’s players and fans – with Okore booked for running into a crowd, who had not seen a league goal from their side since 20 December.

Ironic chants of “we score when we want” followed from the home supporters and with Chelsea pegged back in their own half, for a few minutes it least, it appeared more might follow.

Not for the first time this season, the Blues found themselves in a battle, but they responded in perfect fashion.

Mourinho’s men held firm at the back and began to build their own spell of pressure. Willian sent two shots skidding narrowly wide but the waves of Chelsea attacks were becoming relentless.

Villa cracked after 66 minutes, when they failed to deal with Cesar Azpilicueta’s run and cross into the area.

The ball broke for Ivanovic on the edge of the box, who fizzed an unstoppable first-time shot into the top corner.

Read more at BBC Sport

League Cup: Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea

Liverpool and Chelsea all square after Capital One Cup semi-final first leg

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho still has not won a semifinal against Liverpool after Raheem Sterling’s flash of brilliance earned the Reds a deserved 1-1 draw in the opening leg of their Capital One Cup clash.

During his first spell in charge, the Stamford Bridge boss came off second best in last-four clashes against the Merseysiders in the Champions League, twice, and FA Cup.

The League Cup can now be added to that after Eden Hazard’s 18th-minute penalty was cancelled out by the England international on the hour.

It will not matter to the Portuguese manager, however, as he will be confident they can get the job done in next week’s second leg.

Yet Liverpool counterpart Brendan Rodgers, formerly a member of Mourinho’s coaching staff, and his side will have gained great confidence from this performance.

They restricted the visitors, lining up with the Premier League’s leading scorer Diego Costa, to just one shot on target all game.

The downside was Liverpool created 19 chances, six on target, but could only come away with a draw.

Pre-match, Rodgers said he felt they could go to Stamford Bridge and win and that will now be required, by whatever means necessary, but the advantage remains with Chelsea.

Considering the history between the clubs there was plenty of simmering tension in the first half but it never transferred into real chances.

Just three shots on target were registered, with Chelsea’s solitary effort the penalty.

It came about through Emre Can’s naivety, which in some ways is understandable considering he was only thrust into the left-sided centre-back in a three-man defence on Boxing Day.

His first mistake was to allow Cesc Fabregas to skip past him far too easily to reach the byline, his second was to compound his error by trying to recover the situation by connecting with Hazard.

It may not have been the hardest of challenges but referee Mike Atkinson pointed to the spot and Hazard sent Simon Mignolet the wrong way.

It was familiar storyline, last seen back in April when Mourinho’s side derailed Liverpool’s title bid after capitalising on Steven Gerrard’s slip and then defending the life out of the game.

All the meaningful possession had been the hosts, with Philippe Coutinho showing he could add desire and influence to his talents with the ball.

The fleet-footed Brazilian left the experienced John Terry trailing in his wake with one shuffle and had a shot deflected over.

In between he pulled the strings in the zone 20 yards outside Chelsea’s penalty area, showing an improved relationship with central striker Sterling.

Gerrard’s dipping drive from 30 yards, only just tipped over by Thibaut Courtois, was their best chance although the last action of the half had an incensed Rodgers encroaching on to the pitch claiming a penalty after the ball appeared to hit the hand of Costa laid on the floor.

With a lead in the bag, Chelsea did exactly what Mourinho asked them to in terms of recovering their shape whenever they lost possession and then hitting on the counter-attack.

The Portuguese had planned exactly for this eventuality — you could almost say inevitability — by bringing Jon Obi Mikel in alongside regular midfield colossus Nemanja Matic.

When Rodgers talks about a box in midfield he is referring to it in an attacking sense. Mourinho employed his own box but this one 20 or 30 yards deeper.

Very rarely was there more than 15 yards between Chelsea’s midfield pair and central defenders Terry and Gary Cahill, shutting down the space Coutinho and Gerrard, in a more advanced role, wanted to work in.

The invention had to come from deeper and when Jordan Henderson slid a pass down the centre Sterling went past Matic before the Serbia international could react, raced past Cahill into the area and beat Courtois.

It was the first goal Chelsea’s mean defence had conceded in 341 minutes and all of a sudden the visitors were properly under the cosh.

This seemed to be the game the 22-year-old Coutinho came of age and his run set up Gerrard to hit the post with a placed left-footed shot before the Brazil international forced Courtois into a low save and Martin Skrtel headed over.

Chelsea’s goalkeeper was by far the busier and was at his best to save from Henderson and then react quickly to block Sterling’s rebound before palming away substitute Adam Lallana’s volley.

The Belgian’s performance may just prove to be the one that takes them to Wembley.

Read more at ESPN

Premiership: Spurs 5-3 Chelsea

Five-star Tottenham stun Chelsea as Harry Kane leads the way

Tottenham enjoyed an unforgettable start to 2015 as Chelsea were disposed of in remarkable fashion, with Jose Mourinho’s side shipping five goals as the Premier League title race burst wide open.

Spurs have rarely had the bragging rights in this fixture — just three times in 45 Premier League encounters, in fact — but this was a night those inside White Hart Lane will not forget in a hurry.

Harry Kane’s brace was complemented by efforts from Danny Rose, Andros Townsend and Nacer Chadli as league leaders Chelsea were embarrassed 5-3 in an enthralling New Year’s Day battle.

This was the first time the Blues had conceded even four goals in one match under Jose Mourinho and a defeat so heavy that Manchester City joined them on goal difference at the top of the table. It was a result few could have predicted, especially when Diego Costa tapped home from close range after 18 minutes.

Spurs rallied wonderfully, though, and went in at half-time boasting a 3-1 lead as Kane levelled with a fine effort from 25 yards, before Rose netted and Townsend struck from the spot.

Kane won that penalty and added a classy second goal shortly after half-time – his sixth in as many matches – with Chadli adding a fifth after Eden Hazard had pulled one back for the visitors.

John Terry’s late goal led to a nervy ending but Spurs would not be prevented from a famous end to a winless run of 10 matches in league and cup against Chelsea, which stretched back to April 2010.

This was a third match in seven days for both sides, whose managers plumped for three alterations apiece in north London.

Ryan Mason was one of those to have featured throughout the festive period, although lasted less than 11 minutes of this match.

The 23-year-old went to deck with what appeared a hamstring complaint after stretching for the ball, leading to Mousa Dembele’s early introduction, swelling the number of Belgians on the field to five.

Chadli forced compatriot Thibaut Courtois into action with an overhead kick, shortly before another of the contingent acted as the catalyst to an 18th-minute opener.

Hazard showed wonderful skill to wriggle free and strike across Hugo Lloris’ goal – an effort which came back off the post, only for Oscar to strike a cross-shot which Costa directed home from close range.

Angry claims of offside were rejected by referee Phil Dowd and the tension inside White Hart Lane had gone up a notch.

Federico Fazio did well to stop pantomime villain Costa, whose squared ball to Oscar was met by a block which appeared to hit Jan Vertonghen’s hand.

There was to be no penalty, though, and Kane capitalised on the half-hour mark.

Showing impressive strength, skill and confidence, Kane cut in from the left and brushed aside Oscar to fire a low, 25-yard strike past Courtois.

It was a fine goal and started a remarkable Spurs comeback.

Christian Eriksen darted forwards to put through Chadli and the winger’s strike managed to beat Courtois but came back off the far post, where Rose bravely tucked home the rebound while being flattened by Gary Cahill.

It was a goal which appeared to rattle Chelsea and the home side pulled further ahead from the spot. The normally reliable Cahill clumsily fouled Kane, allowing Townsend to fire home the resulting penalty with the final kick of the first half.

Hazard attempted to pull one back when play resumed, only for the deficit to increase seven minutes into the second half.

Chadli was continuing to prove a nuisance down the left and squared the ball to Kane, who brilliantly spun Nemanja Matic and struck past Courtois.

This was shaping up to be a famous win for Spurs but, never ones to do things the easy way, they let the visitors pull one back.

Hazard robbed possession off the dawdling Fazio and dashed forwards, collecting a one-two off Cesc Fabregas before beating Lloris.

Chelsea had the bit between the teeth now and Mourinho was incandescent when officials rejected penalty appeals when Hazard went down under pressure from Fazio.

Lloris produced a wonderful save to deny Cesar Azpilicueta soon after but things were only to get worse for the Blues, with Chadli the latest to get on the scoresheet by cutting inside before firing home Spurs’ fifth.

Ramires and Hazard had efforts to score for Chelsea before Terry eventually did and, while Fabregas hit the post in stoppage time, they were not to add any more.

Read more at ESPN

Premiership: Southampton 1-1 Chelsea

Southampton take point from Chelsea thanks to Sadio Mane strike

A magical performance from Eden Hazard was not enough to inspire Chelsea to victory as Southampton held firm to secure a hard-earned point.

Jose Mourinho’s side arrived at St Mary’s on a run of five successive wins in all competitions, although the Premier League leaders were knocked off their stride early on as Sadio Mane put the hosts ahead.

Hazard ensured they would not be celebrating a memorable win, though, leading an impressive Chelsea recovery by following up a wonderful leveller with an inspired second-half display, only for resilient Saints to secure a 1-1 draw.

Southampton manager Ronald Koeman will have been a relieved figure at the final whistle, especially after being reduced to 10 men when Morgan Schneiderlin picked up a red card late in a match they started so impressively.

Saints were rewarded for their energetic early display when Mane raced through to meet a wonderful Dusan Tadic pass, keeping calm under pressure from John Terry to beat Thibaut Courtois.

However, Mourinho was not to be undone by former Barcelona colleague Koeman, with Hazard impressively levelling in first-half stoppage time after turning inside and firing home a fine, low a strike.

The ever-impressive Belgian continued to threaten in a one-sided second half, yet Saints rode their luck to secure a point.

Hazard enjoyed himself against a Saints defence including teenager Matt Targett — his first Premier League start — and Maya Yoshida as a makeshift right-back.

Chelsea appeared to pinpoint the Japan international in the early stages, with Hazard, Cesc Fabregas and Andre Schurrle all finding space – albeit without seriously threatening Fraser Forster.

A wayward Tadic effort was the best the hosts could muster until they came a Terry clearance away from taking a 14th-minute lead, with Jose Fonte ready to turn home at the far post.

It was a wonderful block but one which only kept Saints at bay for three minutes as an exceptional Tadic ball undid the Chelsea captain.

Mane burst free to latch onto the ball and kept his composure with the Terry breathing down his neck, coolly lifting the ball past Courtois.

It was a fine goal — the Senegal winger’s second in three days — and one Schneiderlin attempted to add to immediately, only for his long-range effort to fly over.

Seconds later the defensive midfielder was having to work at the other end, cutting out a squared Diego Costa pass as Chelsea attempted to make a quick riposte.

Schurrle was agonisingly close to reaching a chipped Fabregas ball as the visitors upped the ante, although they were still struggling to find the target.

Targett had an effort blocked and Graziano Pelle hooked over as Chelsea continued to be frustrated until first-half stoppage time, when calls for a foul were ignored and Fabregas impressively played through Hazard.

The winger brutally exposed Yoshida, all too easily turning past the defender and, having jinked past Toby Alderweireld, coolly slotted into the far corner.

It was Chelsea’s first shot on target and a timely shot in the arm, with Willian brought on for Schurrle at the break.

It did not take him long to make an impact, forcing impressive blocks off Tadic and Alderweireld in quick succession, before Fabregas was booked for alleged simulation.

Referee Anthony Taylor deemed the Spain international to have taken a dive under pressure from Targett, but there appeared contact from the 19-year-old full-back.

Chelsea were now completely on top and Hazard controlled brilliantly then unleashed a strike across the face of goal, before Costa had a close-range effort blocked.

Southampton were penned in their own half, moving Alderweireld to right-back in a bid to stem the flow.

Chelsea smelt blood, though, and Didier Drogba replaced John Obi Mikel as Mourinho looked to strike a knockout blow.

A slip from Costa saved James Ward-Prowse’s blushes after under-hitting a back pass, while Filipe Luis threatened late on and Forster was grateful to clear up after Fonte’s clearance rebounded goalwards off Victor Wanyama.

Schneiderlin was sent off for a second yellow card with two minutes remaining but Saints held firm to secure a point.

Read more at ESPN

League Cup: Derby 1-3 Chelsea

Filipe Luis’ stunner helped Chelsea clinch a routine 3-1 win over 10-man Derby and move into the Capital One Cup semi-final.

The defender’s superb free kick and Eden Hazard’s opener made it a comfortable night for Jose Mourinho at the iPro Stadium.

Derby briefly rallied after Craig Bryson pulled a late goal back but their hopes ended when Jake Buxton was sent off for a foul on Loic Remy and Andre Schurrle added a third.

The visitors lost Kurt Zouma after a serious-looking collision with goalkeeper Petr Cech but they were in cruise control and rarely got out of third gear.

It was a reminder to the Rams, should they earn promotion to the Premier League, of the challenges they face.

Jose Mourinho issued his intent as Cesc Fabregas, Cesar Azpilicueta, John Terry and Didier Drogba — who came off injured — started while Derby boss Steve McClaren made just two changes.

Buxton came in for the suspended Ryan Shotton in defence while Will Hughes replaced Jeff Hendrick in midfield.

Third in the Championship, the Rams competed well with the top flight leaders without creating any openings while Chelsea were comfortable despite failing to threaten themselves.

But County hit the self destruct button on 23 minutes to gift the visitors the lead.

Richard Keogh was robbed on the edge of the Derby box by Hazard, he played a one-two with Fabregas and the Belgium international danced past three challenges to fire into the bottom corner.

It was ruthless Chelsea’s first shot on target. The goal settled them as Luis immediately fired straight at Lee Grant.

Aside from a flurry of corners late in the half Cech was a spectator, until he clattered into Zouma while he punched away the final corner a minute before the break.

The defender was poleaxed and needed treatment but while their club doctors attended to the defender Chelsea were frustrated by the stretcher-bearers.

Angered by their slow speed Fabregas and Azpilicueta grabbed the stretcher and helped carry it to their stricken teammate.

Branislav Ivanovic replaced him as half-time came, which gave Derby chance to regroup.

And they came close soon after the break when Hughes met Johnny Russell’s cutback but Cech pushed his low effort wide.

The chance briefly reinvigorated the Rams only for Chelsea to brilliantly extend their lead on 56 minutes.

It seemed too much to ask when Luis lined up a 30-yard free kick after Drogba was clipped, only for the defender to fire in a wonderful effort which flashed past Grant.

Again, Derby were silenced as Chelsea controlled the pace and tempo but the Rams grabbed a lifeline out of the blue with 19 minutes left.

Russell found Bryson on the edge of the area and the midfielder curled in off the post to give the hosts hope.

It disappeared though, on 78 minutes when Buxton was dismissed after he pulled Remy back as the striker ran through, much to the shock of his team-mates.

And, four minutes later, Chelsea wrapped up the win when Grant saved from Remy and Schurrle fired in the rebound.

Read more at ESPN

Premiership: Chelsea 2-0 Hull

Eden Hazard helps Chelsea to win over Hull as Tom Huddlestone sent off.

Jose Mourinho’s men edged their card-laden clash with Hull¬† but it was not one of the impressive, dominant displays Chelsea fans have become accustomed to.

Last weekend’s surprise defeat in Newcastle ended talk of the Blues going through the season unbeaten, allowing resurgent Manchester City to close the gap at the top of the Premier League.

There were moments against Hull when it appeared this could be another bad day for Chelsea, but efforts from Eden Hazard and Diego Costa saw them triumph 2-0 against a side reduced to 10 men after a wild Tom Huddlestone challenge.

The struggling visitors could have no arguments with that decision, but referee Chris Foy is likely to come under scrutiny after handing out seven yellow cards in addition to that second-half red.

There could have been more cards had the officials spotted John Obi Mikel’s stamp on Sone Aluko in the build-up to Hazard’s early header, while Hull’s players were furious that Gary Cahill did not receive a second booking for what appeared to be a dive.

Chelsea struggled to create much without the suspended Cesc Fabregas but were given a helping hand when Huddlestone saw red, with Costa capitalising to end a four-game scoring drought in all competitions.

In fairness to Hull, their performance belied that of a side without a league win in eight matches – and they did well to recover from a bad start.

Less than seven minutes were on the clock when Chelsea controversially opened the scoring. A clumsy Mikel challenge on Aluko was missed and play continued, with the ball sprayed out wide to Oscar, whose cross was nodded home by Hazard.

It was a bad start which soon got worse for Hull as injury forced Steve Bruce to bring on son Alex in place of the injured Michael Dawson.

City responded fairly strongly considering those early blows, with Jake Livermore flashing a strike wide before Aluko missed the target in a move started by Mikel being dispossessed.

David Meyler joined team-mate Huddlestone in the referee’s notebook after a comical attempt to hook a corner back into play with a hand, before Willian was booked for taking a tumble as play became stretched.

Cahill became the fourth man to collect a yellow card after a late lunge which saw Aluko require treatment – epitomising a scrappy first half in which a blocked Costa effort was the best Chelsea could muster after pulling ahead.

The hosts’ sloppy performance continued in the second half, with Livermore firing just wide from the edge of the box after some intricate passing.

Mourinho’s side were creating few chances and perhaps that was behind Cahill’s apparent dive in the box.

Hull had expected Foy to hand the centre-back a second booking, only to be incensed when the referee pointed for a goal-kick.

The City players harangued the official, who was soon under pressure from Chelsea after Alex Bruce smashed through Willian. The substitute was only given a booking – the same punishment dished out to Costa for diving soon after, despite having clearly been caught by Huddlestone.

One decision Foy definitely got right, though, was the red card meted out to the former Tottenham midfielder with 30 minutes remaining, after a late lunge on Filipe Luis.

Shortly before becoming the latest player booked, Chester escaped calls for a penalty and Hazard struck a shot straight at Allan McGregor.

It was 2-0 in the 68th minute when Hazard followed a long run by playing a lovely one-two with Branislav Ivanovic, before putting through Costa to turn home.

Oscar and Cahill saw efforts blocked in quick succession, before Ivanovic fired over and a dangerous Willian cross evaded his team-mates. Substitute Andre Schurrle twice saw efforts blocked as the clock wound down.

Read more at ESPN