Tuesday 21 January 2020

Hunt leaves Chelsea in sorry state of affairs

Hull City 1 Chelsea 1

Chelsea's Didier Drogba celebrates after scoring from a free kick to equalise against Hull at the KC Stadium last night. Photo: Getty Images
Chelsea's Didier Drogba celebrates after scoring from a free kick to equalise against Hull at the KC Stadium last night. Photo: Getty Images

Henry Winter

IF John Terry needed evidence of the depth of contempt for his behaviour he found it here. From first whistle to last, the England captain was subjected to all manner of vilification from Hull City fans.

As Chelsea dropped two points, Terry's personal standing around the country plummeted even further.

Hull were well worth their point, exploiting more unease in Chelsea's defence at a set-piece with Steven Mouyokolo's header from the inspirational Stephen Hunt's corner. Chelsea equalised through Didier Drogba's free-kick, but never looked a cohesive, consistently threatening unit.

Still the main story in sports-town, Terry had not shown a flicker of emotion as he strode from the Chelsea bus towards the tunnel, his every step attracting a flurry of boos. Inside the stadium, the derision proved far worse. It was not simply every first-half touch of Terry's that drew catcalls, it was the frequent chants, suggesting he was getting "sacked in the morning'' and far worse about his private life.

This is the problem that the English FA is allowing to fester: any remaining vestiges of Terry's authority as an England captain are being shredded around the country. When he was booked early in the second half for hauling back Jozy Altidore, the stadium dissolved in delight.

Whatever his lack of self-awareness, Terry has never been short of self-belief and he rarely flinched, his equanimity troubled mainly when Hull took a first-half lead through Mouyokolo. The nerves in the blue ranks had been more evident out wide where Chelsea's full-backs endured an awkward opening period. Yuri Zhirkov had started at left-back, although the good news for Chelsea and England was that Ashley Cole had recovered from his ankle knock to sit on the bench.

Zhirkov was tested by Craig Fagan but Hull's main threat came down the left.

Hunt, predictably castigated by visiting supporters for his collision with Petr Cech at Reading, kept running at Branislav Ivanovic, occasionally tricking or speeding his way past the Serbian right-back. One late challenge should have brought a booking, but Mark Clattenburg was in forgiving mood. Ivanovic was cautioned soon after for another foul, this time on Altidore.


Chelsea seemed to settle, Michael Ballack almost scoring with a header from Ivanovic's excellent cross, but Hull's confidence was soon reflected in the scoreline. When Hunt bent in a corner from the right, Chelsea's defence froze. Mouoyokolo headed powerfully home.

Chelsea looked vulnerable, lacking their usual organisation. Slowly, they found a semblance of their stride. Florent Malouda was always lively, taking the game to Hull. Nicolas Anelka followed suit, racing at the hosts' defence. When Anelka was fouled by George Boateng a yard outside the area, Clattenburg played advantage as the ball broke to Lampard, who was promptly brought down inside the box.

"Penalty,'' came the scream from the 3,000 Chelsea fans. Free-kick, ruled Clattenburg, strangely taking play back to the offence on Anelka.

No matter. Drogba punished them from 20 yards, exploiting a gap in Hull's wall to find the back of the net. Hull went apoplectic, claiming that Ricardo Carvalho had created the hole.

As Drogba raced off to celebrate, Terry sprinted to the Chelsea fans to thank them for their support before running back to his half, throwing a stony stare at the Hull fans en route. As the temperature dropped, tempers rose in the second period, particularly amongst the Hull fans enraged by some of Clattenburg decisions.

Chelsea had seen how well Manchester United had performed in eviscerating Arsenal on Sunday, appreciated how the champions remain a formidable force. So they drove on.

Sensing that Chelsea were beginning to build up steam, Phil Brown sent on Amr Zaki. Hull almost broke through when Hunt sent over another corner, but Mouyokolo headed wide. Hunt also rose for a high ball with Cech that drew boos from the Chelsea faithful.

Chelsea tried everything, including excess, and Paul McShane limped away, his head bleeding, after a late challenge from Drogba. Chelsea almost had the last laugh when sub Daniel Sturridge shot powerfully, but Myhill saved. At the final whistle, Terry swapped shirts with Hunt. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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