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Chelsea give up precious point

John Terry always operated on the basis that he was the virtual embodiment of Chelsea Football Club, but since the exposure of his affair with the mother of Wayne Bridge's son it has come a step closer.

To some this was not Hull versus Chelsea but Terry against the world -- which, until the issue of the England captaincy is resolved, is how it is likely to be.

This game was, however, very much more than that. It was about a side suffering a loss of momentum at the worst time -- just after Manchester United had produced a compelling, virtuoso display at the Emirates Stadium. A two-point lead with over three months remaining is not much of an advantage.

It also exploded the myth that Chelsea suffer during the Africa Cup of Nations. For the record, the last time they dropped points while the tournament was in progress was January 2006, when they were held at home by Charlton.

Uncertain

Here, no sooner did their reinforcements arrive from Angola than they became the slightly uncertain team away from home that they had been, before Didier Drogba and the rest departed.

But for Drogba, who scored his 20th goal of the season, this might have been a fourth away Premier League defeat of the season. Nevertheless, Carlo Ancelotti stated that this was a "good result," and added: "We don't have to be disappointed, Hull put us under a lot of pressure."

The Chelsea manager confirmed that if Terry wished to miss the FA Cup tie with Cardiff on Valentine's weekend to be with his wife, who is now sheltering from the media storm in Dubai, that would not be a problem. "If he needs a holiday, I will give him one," Ancelotti said. "If not, he will play."

Without the scandal, nobody would have thought it remarkable that at Turf Moor the final song played before kick-off was Bryan Ferry's Let's Stick Together, with its opening line of "The marriage vow is very sacred". Here, it was the Buzzcocks' Ever Fallen in Love with Someone You Shouldn't Have Fallen in Love With?'

Perhaps the story should not be the public disintegration of Mr Chelsea, but the fact that, when Steven Mouyokolo slipped clear of his marker Michael Ballack, it was the 15th time out of 20 League goals conceded that the defence he leads has succumbed to a set-piece -- this time a Stephen Hunt corner. In first-half stoppage time, it might have been 16, had Anthony Gardner not aimed a header fractionally too high.

This was a similar task for Ancelotti's men to the one they faced at Burnley; to break down a struggling team who have a good home record. Apart from one defeat by Manchester United, Hull had not lost at the KC Stadium since September.

The Premier League leaders set about it with a grim determination, but Hull resisted with a display Brown thought their best of the season.

And they had led for 12 minutes when referee Mark Clattenburg allowed play on when Nicolas Anelka was fouled on the edge of the area. Frank Lampard was then chopped down inside the box and the referee awarded a free-kick for the first foul on the Frenchman.

Drogba stepped up to take it. George Boateng, under the impression the free-kick was indirect, turned his back in the Hull wall with fatal results -- and suddenly Chelsea seemed more than a team that revolved around their captain's sex life.


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