Friday, Oct 24, 2014

Eden Hazard, Fernando Torres fire Chelsea top, United stop rot

Fernando Torres Chelsea's Fernando Torres celebrates scoring his goal against Hull City during their English Premier League soccer match at The KC Stadium in Hull, northern England, January 11, 2014. REUTERS
Reuters | London | Posted: January 12, 2014 1:54 am | Updated: January 12, 2014 11:34 am

Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres applied the gloss to a workmanlike 2-0 victory at Hull City that lifted Chelsea ominously to the top of the Premier League on Saturday.

In true Jose Mourinho style, the Londoners first nullified the minimal threat posed by Hull, then cut through at will after the break when classy goals by Hazard and Torres earned the Blues a fourth consecutive league victory.

Mourinho’s in-form side have 46 points, one more than second-placed Arsenal who visit Aston Villa on Monday and two ahead of Manchester City who travel to Newcastle United on Sunday.

“Do we like to be leaders? Yes, we like, but maybe tomorrow we are second and maybe Monday we are third,” manager Mourinho told reporters.

“The important thing is we all know we are going in the right direction.”

Champions Manchester United remained in seventh place, nine points behind Chelsea, but at least got back to winning ways with a 2-0 home defeat of Swansea City that put a smile back on the face of manager David Moyes after three consecutive defeats.

Everton rose to fourth with 41 points courtesy of a 2-0 home win over Norwich City and Tottenham Hotspur have 40 in fifth after beating Crystal Palace 2-0.

With Sunderland winning 4-1 at Fulham and West Ham United sinking Cardiff City 2-0, Palace now prop up the table although only six points separate them from 10th-placed Hull.

New West Bromwich Albion manager Pepe Mel watched his new club lose 1-0 at mid-table Southampton.

It was about as stress-free a Saturday lunchtime as Chelsea could have wished for at Hull.
They easily coped with the home side’s lacklustre attacks and when they attacked Hazard provided the spark.

The Belgian fired a low shot home following a jinking burst in the 56th minute and Spain striker Torres marked his 200th Premier League appearance with a clinical late strike.

Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech also set a club record of 209 clean sheets, 150 of them in the league.

The Czech international was barely troubled as he edged in front of Stamford Bridge great Peter Bonetti, his only save of note coming from Jake Livermore’s swerving effort before halftime.

Clean sheets

Without scaling the heights Chelsea are beginning to hit top gear at just the right time, churning out wins and clean sheets just as they did in Mourinho’s first stint in charge.

“Today we had the extra pressure of not losing the chance to be top even for a few hours,” the manager said.

“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 in the team.

“We could do better because we lost some points that we shouldn’t have but it could also be worse. Not a five out of 10, not a 10…seven, seven-and-a-half, continued…

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