Match ends, Chelsea 2, Hull City 0.
Chelsea 2-0 Hull City
Diego Costa scored on his return to the Chelsea team as they beat Hull City to move eight points clear at the top of the Premier League.
The Spain striker missed last weekend's 3-0 win over champions Leicester, citing a back injury after a disagreement with a fitness coach, amid reports of Chinese Super League interest.
But the Blues' top scorer - cheered throughout the game by home fans - returned against struggling Hull and had an early impact, sending an effort from 20 yards fizzing just wide after only 10 seconds.
He got the opening goal when he converted Victor Moses' low cross from eight yards out in the seventh minute of first-half injury time.
The long stoppage was a result of an injury to Hull midfielder Ryan Mason, who went to hospital after being carried off on a stretcher wearing an oxygen mask following a clash of heads with Chelsea defender Gary Cahill. Hull later announced he had fractured his skull.
The Tigers played well but lacked cutting edge without the injured Robert Snodgrass and Cahill sealed the win when he headed home Cesc Fabregas' free-kick.
Costa-inspired Chelsea control the title race
Last weekend, Chelsea's position at the top of the Premier League was looking far from secure. The Blues were five points clear after their long winning run was ended by Tottenham and Costa's future at the club seemed in severe doubt.
Fast forward eight days and the Blues - with Costa back in the first team - are now eight points above second-placed Arsenal, the only other team in the top six to win this weekend.
Antonio Conte's side were far from spectacular against the Tigers. In fact, Costa - with six shots - was the only Chelsea player to have more than one effort.
But a 15th win in their past 16 league games - and a 13th Premier League clean sheet of the season - takes them one game closer to a sixth English top-flight title.
The omens look good for Chelsea. No team have ever failed to win the Premier League title after picking up 55 points or more in their opening 22 games.
- Costa speculation is finished - Conte
- Listen: 5 live Football Daily - 'If Chelsea beat Arsenal & Liverpool, title is theirs'
Snodgrass-less Hull need new signings
Hull City have shown signs of improvement after sacking manager Mike Phelan and replacing him with Marco Silva. After beating Bournemouth in his opening Premier League game, they gave Chelsea a real match for large periods.
Whether they stay up - they are two points adrift of safety - might rely on Silva's transfer actions in the next nine days.
They left out West Ham target Robert Snodgrass, who has scored or assisted 50% of their league goals this season - and Silva said just before the game it was "impossible for him to stay".
Despite a good performance, they lacked incision without the Scotland international. A majority of their nine shots came from distance, with centre-back Harry Maguire having four efforts.
At 1-0, they could have had a penalty when Marcos Alonso kicked the back of Abel Hernandez's foot, but nothing was awarded.
Three of Silva's signings, Omar Elabdellaoui, Evandro and Oumar Niasse, played but the Portuguese wants more new faces - and he needs them after selling midfielder Jake Livermore to West Brom for £10m and the loss of Mason to injury.
However, whether anyone can make up for the apparently imminent loss of Snodgrass - their only player to score more than three Premier League goals this season - remains to be seen.
Man of the match - Harry Maguire (Hull City)
Manager reaction - 'Not easy to play this type of game'
Chelsea boss Antonio Conte told BBC Sport: "This game was very difficult for us.
"It is not easy to play this type of game. I think our opponent played very good, had good organisation and made it difficult for us.
"We are in the second part of the season and every game is now very tough for us and also for the other teams.
"You can see today the difficulty all of the teams have."
Hull City manager Marco Silva: "It was not what we wanted from the game. We came here to compete, to take points. Chelsea are in a very good moment but we try.
"In some moments we controlled the game. Chelsea had more ball possession but our team tried and conceded in the last minute of the first half which was cheap. If we changed some things the result might have been different.
"It was a good performance but I want more."
Match stats - Costa scores the latest first-half goal
- Only Ryan Giggs (162) and Frank Lampard (102) have provided more Premier League assists than Cesc Fabregas (101, same as Wayne Rooney).
- In his 100th Chelsea game, Diego Costa scored his 52nd goal for the club.
- Costa's strike was the latest first-half goal in the Premier League since exact times have been recorded by Opta (2006-07 - 51:35).
- The Spain striker has scored in all four of his Premier League games against Hull City.
- This is the fourth time a team have had 55 or more points after 22 Premier League games - and Chelsea have now done so three times (also 2004-05 and 2005-06).
- Hull have now gone 20 Premier League games without a clean sheet since beating Swansea 2-0 back in August.
- The Blues have now won 1,002 Premier League points at home, becoming the third club to reach four figures in the competition (Manchester United 1,116 and Arsenal 1,019).
- Antonio Conte has the same number of points from his first 22 Premier League games that Jose Mourinho had in his (55).
Chelsea host London neighbours Brentford in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday (15:00 GMT kick-off), and visit Liverpool - 10 points behind them - in the Premier League on 31 January (20:00).
Hull host Manchester United in the EFL Cup semi-final second leg on Thursday (19:45), having lost the first game 2-0. An FA Cup visit to Fulham follows on Sunday (12:30) and their next Premier League game is away to United on 1 February (20:00).
- 30David Luiz
- 7KantéBooked at 43mins
- 11PedroSubstituted forWillianat 71'minutes
- 19Diego CostaSubstituted forBatshuayiat 87'minutes
- 10E HazardSubstituted forFàbregasat 71'minutes
- 21DawsonBooked at 7mins
- 6DaviesBooked at 26minsSubstituted forNiasseat 59'minutes
- 25MasonSubstituted forMeylerat 21'minutes
- 3RobertsonBooked at 52mins
- 9HernándezSubstituted forDiomandeat 75'minutes
- Neil Swarbrick
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Chelsea 2, Hull City 0.
Attempt saved. Oumar Niasse (Hull City) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Sam Clucas.
Foul by Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea).
Harry Maguire (Hull City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Chelsea. Michy Batshuayi replaces Diego Costa.
Foul by Gary Cahill (Chelsea).
Adama Diomande (Hull City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Eldin Jakupovic.
Attempt saved. Diego Costa (Chelsea) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Cesc Fàbregas with a through ball.
Goal! Chelsea 2, Hull City 0. Gary Cahill (Chelsea) header from very close range to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Cesc Fàbregas with a cross following a set piece situation.
Willian (Chelsea) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by David Meyler (Hull City).
Corner, Hull City. Conceded by Marcos Alonso.
Substitution, Hull City. Adama Diomande replaces Abel Hernández.
Foul by Willian (Chelsea).
Evandro (Hull City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Nemanja Matic (Chelsea).
Evandro (Hull City) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Offside, Hull City. Evandro tries a through ball, but Michael Dawson is caught offside.
Foul by N'Golo Kanté (Chelsea).
Oumar Niasse (Hull City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Substitution, Chelsea. Willian replaces Pedro.
Substitution, Chelsea. Cesc Fàbregas replaces Eden Hazard.
Corner, Hull City. Conceded by Victor Moses.
Corner, Hull City. Conceded by Thibaut Courtois.
Attempt missed. Michael Dawson (Hull City) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Abel Hernández with a headed pass following a corner.
Corner, Hull City. Conceded by Gary Cahill.
Hand ball by Abel Hernández (Hull City).
Attempt missed. Harry Maguire (Hull City) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left from a direct free kick.
Substitution, Hull City. Oumar Niasse replaces Curtis Davies because of an injury.
Foul by David Luiz (Chelsea).
Sam Clucas (Hull City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Delay in match Curtis Davies (Hull City) because of an injury.
Attempt saved. Diego Costa (Chelsea) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Victor Moses.
Attempt blocked. Diego Costa (Chelsea) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Michael Dawson.
Attempt blocked. Diego Costa (Chelsea) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Attempt saved. David Meyler (Hull City) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Harry Maguire.