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Costa, Cahill give Chelsea an 8-point cushion

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A goal each from returning cult hero Diego Costa and on pitch skipper Gary Cahill powered Chelsea to a 2-0 win over a relegation threatened Hull City side that competed well against the Premier League leaders for large periods, but lacked that cutting edge in the final third to convert good play into goals.

Chelsea made just one change to the side that put three goals past Leicester City last weekend with transfer rumour victim Diego Costa returning to starting eleven in place of Willian on recovering from his reported back issues.

The Chelsea striker, roared on by his adoring fans, threatened to open the scoring barely 10 seconds into the game, narrowly missing the target as the Blues went for the jugular right away.

The opening half though was delayed for large periods due to a clash of heads between Cahill and Hull's record signing Ryan Mason, with the former Tottenham man leaving the game on a stretcher from where he was taken straight to hospital.

The injury time added on at the end of the first half due to that collision proved crucial with Costa finally breaking the deadlock in the 7th minute added on, coolly converting Victor Moses' right wing cross.

Hull City put Chelsea under some serious pressure in the second half and were unlucky not to be awarded an early penalty when Abel Hernandez was tripped in the box by Marcos Alonso with the Spaniard inexplicably getting away with a foul despite being in perfect view of the linesman.

Despite that obvious disappointment, Hull continued to give Chelsea a run for their money, but it was the Blues who grabbed the decisive second goal of the game, a tad against the run of play as Gary Cahill made the most of some tardy marking to head home substitute Cesc Fabregas' freekick.

Chelsea came close to grabbing a third that would have been a little hard on Hull, who based on today's showing seemed to have enough about them to survive in the Premier League under new Manager Marco Silva.

The win for Chelsea on a weekend where a number of the teams chasing them dropped points opens up an 8 point gap between them and second placed Arsenal, who are visitors to Stamford Bridge in early February. Before that, Chelsea also have an important game against fourth placed Liverpool at Anfield on the 1st of Feb.

Up next for the Blues though is a considerably easier assignment as they entertain Brentford in an FA Cup fourth round clash on Saturday, and considering the matches that follow, a very different looking Chelsea side may well take the field in that game.

Teams:

Chelsea: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill; Moses, Kante, Matic, Alonso; Pedro (Willian 71'), Costa (Batshuayi 87'), Hazard (Fabregas 71').

Subs: Begovic, Zouma, Chalobah, Fabregas, Ake, Willian, Batshuayi.

Hull City: Jakupovic, Maguire, Dawson, Davies (Niasse 59'), Elabdellaoui, Mason (Meyler 21'), Huddlestone, Clucas, Robertson, Evandro, Hernandez (Diomande 74').

Subs: Marshall, Tymon, Niasse, Meyler, Maloney, Diomande, Bowen.

Final Score: Chelsea 2-0 Hull City (Costa 45+7', Cahill 81')