Chelsea overcome tough effort from Hull, grab 3-2 EPL win
HULL, England (AP) — Loic Remy made an immediate impact after coming off the bench Sunday to ensure Chelsea avoided another setback in its pursuit of the Premier League title by clinching a 3-2 victory at Hull.
A week after Chelsea was held by Southampton, the fortuitous winner came after substitute Remy's shot squirmed through Hull goalkeeper Allan McGregor in the 77th minute
Chelsea is six points clear of Manchester City at the top of the league with a game in hand but the defensive collapse will be concerning for the London club.
After Eden Hazard and Diego Costa scored in the opening nine minutes, Hull scored twice in 74 seconds to draw level through Ahmed Elmohamady and then to Abel Hernandez.
For long periods thereafter the relegation battlers were the better side, driving relentlessly at Chelsea, but the loss leaves Hull three points above the drop zone.
Chelsea took the lead with ease after 78 seconds at the KC Stadium. Hazard was the most alert player on the field, collecting Costa's pass and charging toward goal. Hazard's rasping shot zipped past McGregor.
Hull should have equalized moments later when Abel Hernandez went one on one with Thibaut Courtois after Dame N'Doye's clever flick on. Hernandez made a clean connection with his shot but Courtois, having narrowed the angle, spread himself to make a vital save.
Chelsea's second in the ninth minute came after Costa collected Cesc Fabregas' ball before darting into the left channel. He appeared to have lost his shooting angle but cut back, evaded Michael Dawson and Alex Bruce, and bent a stunning effort across McGregor and in off the far post.
Hull might have crumbled, but instead it switched from 3-5-2 to 4-4-2 and fashioned a rousing comeback.
N'Doye worked Courtois with a free kick then headed the resulting corner straight at the Belgian. Chelsea threatened a third, Costa heading over from Filipe Luis' cross, but Hull's appetite only increased.
A moment of inspiration was provided by Robertson. The Scot raced past Willian and Branislav Ivanovic with an electric run down the left then served up a wonderful cross that snaked across the six-yard line and into Elmohamady's path. His conversion sent the stadium in raptures and just a minute later Hull had its second.
Courtois claimed the assist this time, dealing calamitously with Ivanovic's back pass as he clumsily presented Hernandez with the gift of an opening. The Uruguayan, having not scored since October, rolled home as Chelsea looked on in amazement.
For the next 15 minutes Chelsea were on the ropes — Ivanovic, Ramires and Gary Cahill all contributing to a huge error count — but David Meyler and Ramirez sent the best chances well wide for Hull.
The visitors were immediately improved after the break with Hazard and Costa immediately causing consternation in the Hull defense.
Courtois went some way to paying back his debt to the side with a stunning triple save in the 64th minute. Elmohamady, Jake Livermore and Ramirez all drilled shots goalwards in the space of 10 frantic seconds and each time Courtois was equal to the challenge.
Costa's day ended in apparent discomfort, the striker giving way for Remy. It proved a precipitous change, with the Frenchman turning match-winner instantly.
Chelsea broke with a precision that had eluded them since the early exchanges and when Willian picked out Remy in the middle a goal seemed certain. He shot a shade too close at McGregor but with the Scot mid-dive, the ball ricocheted off his legs and over the line.