Super Eagles forward, Victor Moses featured for 90 minutes with an assist, as Premier League leaders Chelsea have moved eight points clear at the top of the table after they battled to a 2-0 win over a stubborn Hull City at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Returnee Spanish striker, Diego Costa opened scoring for the Blues, Gary Cahill added the second, nine minutes from time to seal the three points, but this was no vintage Chelsea performance.
Lacklustre, poor tempo and a decidedly low-key atmosphere from the 41,000 crowd meant this was a game where the result was more important.
With the Costa training gerund bust-up put on the back burner until the end of the season, the Blues’ win was made even sweeter by the dropped points this weekend from all their rivals bar Arsenal, had they scored an early goal, the game could have been easier.
Costa almost scored within nine seconds when his searing right-footed volley from the edge of the Hull City penalty area inched wide of Eldin Jakupovic, right post.
Hull settled down after that let-off and on eight minutes had their first chance when ex-Spurs man Tom Huddlestone saws his daisy-cutter zip wide of Thibaut Courtois’s left upright.
Chelsea dominated possession in then opening stages, however with Hull content to counter-attack. There was a terrible clash of heads between Gary Cahill and Ryan Mason on 12 minutes, within Mason, another ex-Spurs man suffering the worst. Cahill returned to the pitch but Mason after eight minutes of treatment was carried off to be replaced by David Meyler.
A cheeky shoot by Marcos Alonso on 30 minutes, glanced off the body of Dawson and almost dropped into the back of Jakupovic’s net but the keeper managed to tip the ball over his crossbar for a corner. Costa put the ball in the back of the net on 42 minutes, but he was adjudged to have been offside.
Harry Maguire, City’s centre-back found himself free, 25 yards out and let fly within a blistering shot, which Courtois did well to parry away at the far post for a corner.
There were nine minutes of added time. In the seventh of those minutes, the Blues made the breakthrough when Victor Moses, on the right byline cut the ball back and in-running Costa slammed the ball into the back of the Hull net. That was Costa’s 15th league goal of the campaign.
Hull came out of the restart will all guns blazing, pushing the Blues back and should have had a stonewall penalty on 48 minutes when Alonso hacked own Abel Hernandez. Bizarrely referee NeilStarbuck missed it. David Meyler then had a long-range effort, that Courtois did well to flick away from goal.
Chelsea’s performance was woeful and Antonio Conte decided to make changes on 69 minutes bringing on Cesc Fabregas and Willian for ineffectual Eden Hazard and Pedro respectively. While the performance did not improve, the Blues did get the vital second goal with nine minutes left on the clock.
A clipped curling right-footed in-swinging free-kick by Fabregas was met, full on the head by Cahill to powerfully nod past Jakupovic. Costa could have made it three, when Fabregas sent Costa clear but his shot was thwarted by the body of the goalkeeper. Courtois had one smart save to make from substitute Adams Diomande, but in truth by then, Hull were spent.