A third consecutive league defeat for Hull City was confirmed by second-half goals from Willian and Diego Costa as Chelsea were eventually able to cruise to a familiar win at the KCOM Stadium. There were no such guarantees at the interval following an evenly-matched first half but the Tigers soon fell below those bright standards. Although Chelsea had all the class, including two special finishes, they also had a helping hand from an untidy host. In the words of Mike Phelan, City were the architects of their own demise.
The performance served up during the first half was excellent. Hull City were the equal of their visitors and twice brought out smart saves from Thibaut Courtois. At the other end, meanwhile, David Marshall did not have a single shot to save. Perhaps Phelan's side wasted too much gas against an opponent happy to weather the storm but if they repeat those standards against the drop rivals coming up, there should be opportunities for points. Dieumerci Mbokani, who made his full league debut up front, was a menace when City played to his strengths.
As much as the first half was encouraging, the second period was worrying. An inexplicable drop in quality resulted in possession being coughed up time and time again, gifting Chelsea the chance to come on strong. The midfield, in particular, went missing in action after the break. Sam Clucas, Ryan Mason and Markus Henriksen were all overrun, a fact best illustrated by the ease with which Nemanja Matic surged through in the build-up to Chelsea's second. City didn't just blink when it mattered, they shut their eyes.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- Mike Phelan's plan worked a treat through the opening half, with his decision to call up Mbokani and Henriksen promising to reap dividends. Chelsea turned the tide after the break but the caretaker boss was unable to respond.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK David Marshall, 7 -- Chelsea's two finishes in the second half were unstoppable and but for his saves in the second half it could have been a heavier defeat. He's settling in nicely as the club's new number one.
DF David Meyler, 5 -- Never going to be easy as a makeshift right-back, replacing the suspended Ahmed Elmohamady. Initially solid but stretched as the game went on. Wayward passing did not help.
DF Jake Livermore, 6 -- Deflected Costa's shot against the post with a great covering tackle but only after a needless surrender of possession. Dipped below the high standards and now has Michael Dawson breathing down his neck.
DF Curtis Davies, 7 -- Unfortunate to see his block to deny Nemanja Matic sent into the top corner by Costa but he could hold his head up after another strong showing. Came off worse in the tackle that led to Willian's opener.
DF Andrew Robertson, 6 -- Began the game with a real sense of purpose but lost his way as the contest wore on. Almost tried too hard to swing the momentum back City's way and, like so many, his use of the ball was sloppy.
MF Markus Henriksen, 6 -- A full Premier League debut for the Norwegian international showed his potential in the first half but the intensity of the game caught up with him. A bystander for both of Chelsea's goals.
MF Sam Clucas, 6 -- Held his own against more illustrious opponents in midfield for the first hour but in keeping with his side's display, his levels dipped after the interval. No faulting commitment but quality deserted him.
MF Ryan Mason, 5 -- A first start at the KCOM Stadium for the club record signing included a shot from distance saved by Thibaut Courtois but was lost in Chelsea's dominance in the second half. Fans will expect more given the outlay.
FW Robert Snodgrass, 6 --
Almost opened the scoring with a free-kick saved by Courtois early on and contributed to Chelsea's uneasy feel for long periods. Tracked back plenty of times once the tide turned in a hard-working effort.
FW Adama Diomande, 5 -- Another erratic display from the forward, whose good touches are soon let down by the bad. Replaced for the fourth game running and will see his place come under threat away to Bournemouth.
FW Dieumerci Mbokani, 7 -- The biggest positive of the day was the full Premier League debutant, whose power up front gave City a fresh attacking option. Capable of bullying defenders on this evidence, though a chance never came.
MF Shaun Maloney, 5 -- Tasked with turning the tide back his side's way but never managed that from the left flank.
FW Abel Hernandez, N/R -- A surprise omission but no chances to prove his manager wrong late in the game.
MF Tom Huddlestone, N/R -- Another to lose his place after a poor display at Liverpool but the game was up by the time he arrived.