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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
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
18:50

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
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

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.

18:30

Full-time

Chelsea 2-0 Hull

18:30

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

18:27

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.

18:24

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.

18:22

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.

18:20

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
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images

18:17

Goal: Chelsea 2-0 Hull (Gary Cahill)

18:17

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.

18:12

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.

18:11

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

18:09

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?

18:07

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.

18:04

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.

18:03

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.

18:01

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
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)

17:59

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

17:57

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

17:56

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

17:55

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.

17:52

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.

17:49

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.

17:48

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.

17:46

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.