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Full-time: Chelsea 2-0 Hull City

  • Diego Costa marks his return to action with a goal as Chelsea overcome spirited strugglers Hull to chalk up an eighth successive home victory and move eight points clear at the top of the Premier League
  • Thrust straight back into the starting XI for his 100th Blues appearance, Costa breaks the deadlock seven minutes into first-half stoppage time by dispatching Victor Moses' low cross beyond Eldin Jakupovic
  • Gary Cahill wraps up victory for the hosts late on by heading home a Cesc Fabregas free-kick from close range
  • Ryan Mason taken to hospital after being stretchered off with oxygen following a nasty clash of heads with Cahill
  • Hull, denied a second-half penalty when Abel Hernandez fell under the challenge of Marcos Alonso, also lose Curtis Davies to an apparent hamstring injury
  • The Tigers remain 19th and two points adrift of safety following their ninth consecutive away defeat
Diego Costa

They did not have it all their own way, but Chelsea do enough to secure an eighth straight home win that sends them eight points clear at the summit of the Premier League. Costa is the man of the moment after marking his return and 100th appearance with a 15th goal of the season. Conte's side host west London rivals Brentford in the fourth round of the FA Cup next weekend before crucial back-to-back clashes against title rivals Liverpool and Arsenal.

Diego Costa

As for Hull, they certainly gave a good account of themselves again under the likable Silva but predictably came up short. A ninth successive away loss marks their worst run on the road since 1998 and they remain mired in the relegation zone, two points adrift of safety. The Tigers host Manchester United for the second leg of their EFL Cup semi-final tie on Thursday evening before an FA Cup outing at Fulham is followed by a league meeting with the Red Devils and their own clashes with Liverpool and Arsenal. That's quite a tough stretch.

That is all we have time for tonight, thanks for following along.


Chelsea 2-0 Hull

Alonso rises to head clear with Huddlestone hoping to connect with a cross from the left byline.

Niasse, teed up by Clucas, impresses with a sharp left-footed effort from a tricky angle that forces Courtois into another low save.

We will have four minuted of added time at the end of this second half.

Costa's number goes up and he is greeted to a warm reception from Chelsea fans, who appear to bear no malice towards him after that unsavoury recent episode.

He even shares a quick embrace with Conte as Michy Batshuayi takes the field for the final few minutes.

Costa almost has his second goal. He gratefully accepts an incisive low pass from Fabregas and tries to slide the ball under Jakupovic, who saves with the inside of his leg.

The sense of relief around Stamford Bridge is palpable after Cahill, left completely unmarked, heads home Fabregas' free-kick from close range to surely seal all three points.

Rather than challenge the stand-in Chelsea skipper, Niasse appeared to duck out of the way. Awful defending.

Gary Cahill

Goal: Chelsea 2-0 Hull (Gary Cahill)

Alonso draws the ire of the fans, his manager and teammates after needlessly turning a Hull cross behind under absolutely no pressure. Talk about a lack of communication.

The corner comes to nothing and Chelsea break quickly through Kante. Meyler fouls Willian and concedes a free-kick in a dangerous area.

Matic just overhits a searching long pass intended for the run of Costa. Not much change for the goal-scorer in this second half thus far.

Silva's final change sees Diomande replace Hernandez. It looks like Niasse will now operate as the central striker for Hull.

18 minutes plus stoppage time remaining. Can Chelsea find a second goal to put this game to bed, or will Hull keep pushing and find that elusive equaliser?

Huddlestone releases Hernandez with a perfectly-weighted low pass, but the chance goes begging due to a poor first touch from the former Palermo frontman.

With his side leading but now pushed firmly onto the back foot, Conte responds by sending on Cesc Fabregas and Willian. Hazard and Pedro make way.

Hull are dominating just at the moment and win another corner when Moses blocks Robertson's cross with his hands. Not sure how that wasn't a free-kick.

Their latest attack ends with a wild shot from Niasse that soars high into the crowd.

Hull are far from beaten here. Silva's side apply some sustained pressure during a decent spell and Dawson defies a tough angle to force Courtois into a save at his near post.

Hazard sinks to the turf in pain after pressure from Meyler, who is distinctly unimpressed with the theatrics.

At the other end, Hernandez thinks he has bought a cheap free-kick from Luiz but the referee gives it the other way.

Eden Hazard

Maguire stands firm in his battle with Costa and Niasse, operating on the right-hand side, gets back well to dispossess Alonso.

Disappointing effort from Maguire as he sends a mediocre free-kick well wide.

Hull's injury woes continue. Davies limps down the tunnel feeling his hamstring and is replaced by Everton loanee Niasse.

The clock ticks into the 55th minute and Chelsea fans applaud in memory of Carl O'Brien, a Blues supporter from Wallington who died before Christmas after being attacked in Sutton.

Dawson produces a vital block to change the direction of Costa's hefty shot on the turn.

The Chelsea striker then gains a yard on Davies and lets fly with a low drive that is held by Jakupovic.

Hull have made a positive start to this second 45 and Silva should be suitably encouraged. Meyler is the latest player to test Courtois with an accurate strike from distance.

Clucas' shot is deflected over the crossbar for a Hull corner which Chelsea can clear.

Moses then loops the ball impudently over Robertson and is promptly taken down by the Scottish international. The yellow card comes out once more.

Meyler slides a low pass into the channel for Hernandez, who gets a toe to the ball first and is then clearly kicked by Alonso. He understandably wants a penalty but Swarbrick declines.

That looked a bad decision. You wonder how the referee's assistant did not spot it from that distance.


We are back underway at the Bridge. Maguire immediately seizes on a sliced clearance from Cesar Azpilicueta and drags a low shot wide.

He has looked to get forward at every opportunity so far this afternoon.


Chelsea 1-0 Hull

Chelsea break the deadlock just moments after Hernandez is denied a free-kick following some close attention from Cahill.

Alonso switches the play out to Moses, who runs at Robertson before providing a low pass for Costa to sidefoot home in the seventh minute of stoppage-time. Jakupovic tried in vain to keep it out with his foot.

He's back all right.

Diego Costa

Goal: Chelsea 1-0 Hull (Diego Costa)

A sliding Kante comes agonisingly close to making contact with a dangerous low first-time cross from Alonso. Jakupovic gathers gratefully.

The free-kick comes to nothing and Luiz sees an ambitious long-range drive blocked.

Maguire then grapples with and slides in on Costa after a free-kick had already been given Hull's way.

Davies chops down Pedro just a couple of yards outside the Hull box. The Chelsea fans bay for a second yellow, but Swarbrick opts for a final warning.

Nine minutes of added time will be played at the end of this first half.

Maguire has impressed with his forays forward in this first half and his latest powerful attempt draws a good save from Courtois.

Kante brings down Huddlestone and receives a booking for his troubles.

Costa wagged his finger in disapproval at the referee's assistant after that decision. Pedro was miles offside but not really affecting play. His fellow Spaniard may well have been on.

Diego Costa

Costa slots the ball past Jakupovic and into the bottom corner. However, the whistle had already gone with Pedro flagged for offside.

Chelsea are struggling to break Hull down here, but you feel that first goal is simply inevitable given their unrelenting waves of attack. The compact visitors have to try and keep the ball for a stretch.

Hazard tries to place the Tigers backline under the cosh once more, but loses his footing at an important moment.

Hull need to find an outlet ball and fast with around 20 minutes of this first half still remaining.

Hull just cannot clear their lines amid a period of intense Chelsea pressure. Huddlestone clears Hazard's low cross after a flash no-look pass from Alonso and Pedro appeals for a penalty after a coming together with Elabdellaoui.

The referee points only for another corner.

Moses wins another Chelsea corner and Jakupovic is forced to awkwardly clear into touch.

Pedro and Hazard then combine to set up Alonso, whose deflected shot is tipped over by the Hull goalkeeper.

Davies joins Dawson in the book for cynically hauling down Kante as Chelsea looked to break following that Maguire header. Both Hull centre-backs now on yellow cards.

Good defending from Luiz to deal with the potential threat posed by Sam Clucas.

Hull come again through Harry Maguire, who shows great persistence in driving into the box and winning a corner off Cahill. The defender then heads straight at Thibaut Courtois.

After a lengthy stoppage lasting approximately nine minutes, Mason is strapped into the stretcher and carried from the pitch to applause.

Meyler, having received plenty of instruction from Silva during that break, jogs on. Cahill also seems fine to continue.

Ryan Mason

No risks being taken with Mason here as medical staff and several members of the Ambulance Service continue to attend to the former Tottenham midfielder.

Not scenes you ever want to see.

A dazed Cahill is now back on his feet and walking towards the touchline, but Mason looks to be really hurt and will need to be stretchered off after receiving oxygen.

Meyler is stripped and ready to come on.

Andy Robertson prevents Victor Moses from delivering a cross and Chelsea have a corner. The game is stopped and Swarbrick immediately gestures for the physios after a nasty clash of heads between Gary Cahill and Ryan Mason.

Gary Cahill and Ryan Mason

Tom Huddlestone works well with Abel Hernandez, shifting in between Nemanja Matic and N'Golo Kante. He collects the Uruguayan striker's clever flick and drags a low shot well wide from 20 yards.

Signs of intent at least from the visitors.

Just seven minutes on the clock and Michael Dawson has his name taken for a poor challenge on Pedro. The Hull captain will be walking a tightrope from here on out.

Chelsea are unsurprisingly monopolising possession during the opening stages of this match. Hull content to drop off and sit deep.

It was a superb long trademark pass from David Luiz that set up that early chance. Curtis Davies could not get enough distance on his clearing header.

Just a matter of seconds after Neil Swarbrick gets the game underway, Costa volleys narrowly wide of Eldin Jakupovic's right-hand post.

What a way that would have been to mark his return to the starting XI.

So after a truly frantic finish at the Emirates Stadium that saw Arsenal move into second place with the latest of victories over Burnley, we now know that a win today for Chelsea would see them open up an eight-point lead at the top of the table.

Kick-off is less than five minutes away.

Elabdellaoui and Evandro make their full debuts for Hull. Snodgrass misses out and Adama Diomande moves to the bench, where he joins the fit-again Meyler and Niasse.

Costa takes the place of Willian, who drops to the bench. Nathan Ake is also included as a substitute, with Branislav Ivanovic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek making way.

No Terry in the matchday squad, either.

Diego Costa

BREAKING: Diego Costa starts for Chelsea...


Official team news on the way very shortly.

Hull will obviously need to replace the gaping hole in midfield left by Livermore's absence. Key man Robert Snodgrass, who has also been attracting significant transfer attention of late, is doubtful with a muscle injury.

David Meyler is expected to be fit and Silva could choose to hand a debut to right-back Omar Elabdellaoui, who joined the club on loan from Olympiacos on Friday.

Robert Snodgrass

Shaun Maloney, Alex Bruce, Greg Luer, Will Keane, Markus Henriksen, Moses Odubajo and Brian Lenihan all remain sidelined. New signings Oumar Niasse and Evandro could make their maiden starts.

Conte confirmed during Friday's pre-match press conference that Costa is available again after returning to training, so all eyes will be on the teamsheet to see if he immediately restores the volatile Spaniard to his starting XI or else keeps faith with an attacking trio of Willian, Eden Hazard and Pedro.

Diego Costa

John Terry is also back from suspension, giving his manager the luxury of a full-fit squad to choose from.

Chelsea have shown little signs of a hangover after being denied a historic 14th successive Premier League victory with a 2-0 defeat to London rivals Tottenham Hotspur earlier this month, bouncing back to thrash Peterborough United in the FA Cup before defying Diego Costa's potentially defining absence to ease past Leicester and increase their lead at the summit to seven points.


Having won each of their last nine home matches, Antonio Conte will be confident that his side can capitalise on a mostly disappointing weekend for their title rivals against a Hull City outfit that many feel are still nailed on for an immediate return to the Championship despite the initially positive impact made by new manager Marco Silva.

This week's controversial £10m sale of influential midfielder Jake Livermore to West Bromwich Albion will have done little to soothe those relegation fears.

Stay with IBTimes UK for breaking team news and confirmed lineups from west London. Live updates to follow after kick-off at the slightly later time of 16.30 GMT.