• Sat
  • Apr 19, 2014
  • Updated: 4:27pm
SportSoccer

Chelsea go top with victory at Hull City

Although Mourinho's men may only have a brief stay at the summit of the Premier League, the signs are that the Blues are hitting their straps

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 January, 2014, 1:30am
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 January, 2014, 10:08pm

Chelsea climbed to the top of the Premier League table with two fine goals from Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres in a 2-0 win at Hull City on Saturday.

Hazard, who turned 23 on Tuesday, broke the deadlock early in the second half at the KC Stadium before Torres marked his 200th Premier League appearance with a late goal.

A thoroughly satisfying day for Jose Mourinho also witnessed goalkeeper Petr Cech set a new club record of 209 clean sheets, 150 of them in the Premier League.

Cech was barely troubled as he edged in front of Peter Bonetti, his only save of note coming from Jake Livermore's swerving effort before half-time.

Mourinho said he expected New Year leaders Arsenal, who play Aston Villa on Monday, and Manchester City, who travel to Newcastle on Sunday, to knock his side off the summit, but the signs were that Chelsea were beginning to hit top gear.

Last year, you saw a talented Hazard. This year, he is a much more mature player. He deserves more than man of the match, probably player of the month. Not many are doing what he is doing
Jose Mourinho

Everton are also on the up, rising to fourth courtesy of a 2-0 home win over Norwich City and Tottenham Hotspur are fifth after beating Crystal Palace 2-0.

With Sunderland winning 4-1 at Fulham and West Ham United with a much-needed 2-0 win at Cardiff City, Palace now prop up the table. For the Hammers' coach Sam Allardyce, it was a morale-boosting result which saw them move out of the relegation zone.

Newly appointed West Bromwich Albion manager Pepe Mel watched his new club lose 1-0 at Southampton.

"It's better to be [top] than not to be," Mourinho, whose side have 46 points from 21 games, told BT Sport.

"Today we had the extra pressure of not losing the chance to be top even for a few hours. I feel the team is improving step by step, all the players are stable and the young players are improving, you can feel the evolution."

Mourinho dismissed French media reports linking Hazard with a move to Paris Saint-Germain, saying: "The club doesn't want to sell him. Obviously the manager has that decision. Every manager wants players like him.

"Last year, you saw a talented Hazard. This year, he is a much more mature player. He deserves more than man of the match, probably player of the month. Not many are doing what he is doing."

Hull had beaten Fulham 6-0 in their previous home game and they had the best of the early skirmishes, with Livermore testing Cech from long range and Yannick Sagbo shooting wide after John Terry lost the ball.

Chelsea began to assert control, however, and Hull goalkeeper Allan McGregor had to produce a razor-sharp reflex save to deny Oscar before tipping a plunging David Luiz free kick over the crossbar.

McGregor had to repel another free kick from Luiz early in the second period before Hazard made the breakthrough in the 56th minute with a characteristic individual goal.

The Belgian forward collected a flick from Ashley Cole just outside the Hull area and shifted the ball away from a couple of defenders before drilling a low shot into the bottom-right corner with his right foot.

Torres applied the finishing touch in the 87th minute, gathering a pass just inside the Hull half and wriggling past Alex Bruce before slamming a low shot inside the left-hand post.

Struggling champions Manchester United were out to try to snap a three-match losing run when they hosted Swansea City in the late kick-off, just a week after the Welsh side knocked David Moyes' side out of the FA Cup.

Agence France-Presse, Reuters

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