Saturday, February 7, 2009

Chelsea 0-0 Hull City

Chelsea's fading title aspirations sustained another massive blow as they failed to overcome hard-working Hull and were booed off by their own fans at Stamford Bridge after a 0-0 draw.

Luis Felipe Scolari's side have now dropped 16 points at home this season and after Aston Villa's win at Blackburn, they slipped into fourth place in the Barclays Premier League.

Hull, without a win in nine league games, became the latest side to frustrate Chelsea on their home turf and with some more composed finishing in front of goal, City may well have taken all three points.

Perhaps the omens were there for Chelsea as early as the second minute when a free-kick from Frank Lampard found John Terry inside the six-yard box.

The Chelsea captain's first instinctive effort was saved by Matt Duke but when the ball rebounded back to him just two yards out, he somehow contrived to send his second shot over the bar.

New boy Ricardo Quaresma, on loan from Inter Milan for the remainder of the season, showed some nice early touches.

Hull were kept relatively quiet in the opening moments but Geovanni was just off target with an angled volley from 20 yards in the 10th minute.

Eight minutes later another quick Hull break allowed Geovanni to try his luck again from 20 yards but his shot was deflected off Terry for a corner.

But the resultant free-kick was cleared and Quaresma almost opened the scoring when Chelsea broke on the counter.

The home side's quick attack had been led by the galloping Salomon Kalou and his pass allowed Quaresma to try and curl the ball around Duke, but the winger's shot was tipped round the post by the Hull goalkeeper.

It was all Chelsea and Michael Ballack was narrowly wide with an angled drive as the Blues stepped up the pace.

Hull were defending valiantly as another Chelsea attack saw a shot from Kalou cleared superbly by Kevin Kilbane.

But Hull responded bravely and John Obi Mikel was booked for a bringing down Geovanni after the City striker had made him look quite pedestrian.

Geovanni could not punish Chelsea from the free-kick which he sent over Hilario's crossbar from 20 yards.

On the half-hour mark, Ballack was sent sprawling by Kamil Zayatte 20 yards from the Hull goal but referee Lee Mason did not produced a card to the fury of the home fans.

Ballack almost made the visitors pay with his free-kick which he curled around the City wall only for it to hit the side netting.

It was the spark for another sustained spell of Chelsea pressure. First Kalou caused panic in the Hull defence when he danced into the area only to see his pass to Anelka intercepted by Michael Turner.

Then a corner from Lampard found the head of Terry but his effort was well saved by Duke.

Another free-kick from Lampard in the 34th minute smashed straight into the groin of the unfortunate Zayatte, who was unsurprisingly left pole axed on the ground.

The Hull player returned to the fray after a spell of treatment and the visitors almost stunned the home side in the 40th minute when Kilbane headed a cross from Samuel Ricketts just inches wide of an upright.

Hull captain Ian Ashbee was booked in the 47th minute for his latest niggling foul on Ballack.

A free-kick by Hull's Dean Marney four minutes later had Chelsea's defence in trouble until Alex managed to clear the danger.

Moments later Craig Fagan beat Mikel to the ball and sped clear of the Chelsea defence but the City midfielder's attempted chip was caught easily by Hilario.

There was little to indicate that Chelsea had the guile to break the deadlock and the home fans were beginning to vent their frustration.

Scolari replaced the ineffective Mikel with Juliano Belletti in the 56th minute, but the initial change did nothing to spark Chelsea and so Scolari opted to replace Quaresma with Didier Drogba in the 63rd minute.

In the 67th minute Hull wasted a gilt-edged chance to open the scoring when Geovanni carved open the Chelsea defence with a perfect through ball for Marney.

The Hull player probably did not realise how much time he had as he screwed his shot just beyond the far post.

Referee Mason waved away penalty appeals from Chelsea when Andy Dawson appeared to handle the ball inside the penalty area.

Chelsea's last change of the afternoon was to replace Ballack with Deco in the 72nd minute.

In the 78th minute, Duke dived low to his left to keep out a shot from Kalou.

Four minutes from time Drogba sent a free-kick wide of the target to complete a miserable afternoon for the Blues.

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