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Jose Mourinho made a winning return to the Chelsea dugout as his side beat Hull City 2-0 at Stamford Bridge in the Barclays Premier League.
Frank Lampard was denied the first goal of the Portuguese's comeback when Allan McGregor saved his early penalty, but Chelsea were ahead shortly after when Oscar completed a flowing move with a poked finish. The hosts' lead was doubled by Lampard when he smashed home a free-kick from distance to set up a second half in which Premier League new-boys Hull battled valiantly to stay in touch with their opponents.
Mourinho handed starts to two stalwarts of his first spell at the club, with John Terry and Lampard returning at centre-back and in central midfield respectively. Hull manager Steve Bruce abandoned the 3-5-2 formation that served his side so well in Championship last season to deploy a 4-3-3 set-up with loanee striker Danny Graham leading the line.
The build-up to Sunday's game had focused on Mourinho's return to Chelsea, and the Portuguese's second stint in charge appeared set for a dream start when Hull goalkeeper McGregor wandered to the edge of his box to fell Fernando Torres with five minutes gone and concede a penalty. But the Scot would earn himself an instant reprieve, diving low to his right to pound away Lampard's well-hit spot-kick and keep the scores level.
It would take just under seven minutes for Chelsea to grab the breakthrough, when a fine exchange allowed Kevin De Bruyne to work space and the Belgian picked out a slide-rule pass that Oscar poked under McGregor's dive.
Lampard went close with a drive inside the box in the immediate aftermath of the first goal, but he eventually also got on the scoresheet midway through the first half courtesy of a ferocious 30-yard free-kick that dipped over the visiting goalkeeper. The second was little more than Chelsea had deserved, and they began to play with a degree of comfort rarely seen in a season-opening fixture after carving out a two-goal advantage.
They even almost added a third just before half-time, only for McGregor to prevent a Branislav Ivanovic header from crossing the line - a fact confirmed by the use of the Premier League's new Goal Decision System.
The second half started at a leisurely pace, with Chelsea happy to spend the opening 15 minutes keeping possession and stamping out Hull hopes of a meaningful counter-attack with ruthless defending. This prompted visiting manager Bruce to make a double substitution, with close-season acquisitions from Tottenham Hotspur Jake Livermore and Tom Huddlestone replacing David Meyler and Graham as Hull searched for a way back into the match.
A chipped effort from substitute Andre Schurrle was the closest either side came to scoring again in the final moments of the match.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho: “The reception was amazing. I was expecting that because I played here with Inter as an opponent and it was fantastic so I could imagine that coming to Chelsea would be like that. It gives me more responsibility but at the same time they know I give everything for this club.
(To Chelsea TV) “I'm very happy, I was saying before about the quality, dynamic and creativity. I've played so many times here and won so many matches, but I've never had such a period of fantastic play like we had. In the second half when I saw it going in another direction I was a bit frustrated because I wanted more, but after five or 10 minutes I was thinking that we didn't because we couldn't, you can't play that way for 90 minutes.
“When the creativity disappeared we lost the danger in our game. I tried to make a couple of changes but at that time the game was bad, we sat back but our defensive block was very comfortable. The second half wasn't comparable to the first half but the first half was fantastic.
“I'm happy we managed to win and show this is the football we want to play and can play. Now it's up to me to make it happen more often.”
Hull City manager Steve Bruce: "We all know how difficult it's been and what's changed this year for me is that the so-called smaller teams have all invested a lot of money. When you see the likes of Southampton going for a £15million player; Swansea, Norwich, all the teams that - no disrespect to them - you think you're going to be up against, they've all invested too. We know how difficult it's going be but let's try to make a fist of it and do our best to try and stay there.
[On Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore being on the bench] "We've only had them 48 hours really and believe them or not we've been trying to work on a system to play Chelsea for the last two-three weeks. Also I have to say that that in management to create the spirit and atmosphere you have to be kind to the boys who have got you here too.
"For them rainy nights in Barnsley - no disrespect - people have done well for me so it was important for me that they be rewarded too. But make no mistake the two boys from Tottenham will make a huge difference to us and we've got many games to play where we won't be playing Chelsea every week."
|26 Dec 2013||v Swansea (H)|
|29 Jan 2014||v West Ham (H)|
|19 Jan 2014||v Man Utd (H)|
|02 Nov 2013||v Newcastle (A)|
|23 Nov 2013||v West Ham (A)|
|13 Apr 2014||v Swansea (A)|