Chelsea 2-0 Hull City: Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction
Chelsea comfortably bested Hull City at Stamford Bridge on Sunday to get the Jose Mourinho era off to a flying start.
The Blues recorded a 2-0 victory to put themselves in third place in the Premier League table, and now breathe confidence into a side reborn.
Frank Lampard's botched penalty in the opening minutes caused a stir in the crowd, but Oscar's delightful finish to open the home side's account soon after settled the nerves.
Lampard atoned for his previous error with a stunning free kick on the 25-minute mark, and the Blues went into half-time two goals to the good.
A business-like second half could have seen the home side awarded a second penalty, while the visitors grew into the game and looked capable of nicking a goal.
Hull's outlook from the start was extremely positive, lining up in an attacking 4-3-3 formation and placing an emphasis on neat buildup play and retention of possession.
From the start, they played in what many would consider the "right" way, with Steve Bruce resisting the urge to park the bus and grind out a draw.
Debutant Allan McGregor experienced a moment of madness early on as he travelled 15 yards out from goal to intercept a through-ball, but only succeeded in clattering Fernando Torres.
The subsequent penalty was drilled to the 'keeper's right by Lampard, but the Scot redeemed himself with a firm stop. Despite the feel-good factor his heroics generated in the team, Chelsea's opener seemed only a matter of time.
Oscar obliged, latching onto a clever Kevin De Bruyne through-ball to prod home with ease. Minutes later Lampard buried an unbelievable free kick from 25 yards to double the advantage.
GOAL: 1-0 to Chelsea, Hazard fed De Bruyne, he slipped in Oscar and the Brazilian poked it past McGregor. 12 mins played. #CFCLive— Chelsea FC (@chelseafc) August 18, 2013
Twenty-five minutes gone, two goals down and players struggling for breath, Steve Bruce looked on from the bench, concerned.
Hull's plight was hardly helped by the fact that—despite Bruce's pre-match insistence that they would try hard to give Danny Graham support—they rarely pushed more than one player into Chelsea's box.
Crosses, slide-rule passes and through-balls were easily dealt with.
The Blues dominated the remaining minutes of the first half but the Tigers stood firm, growing slowly into the game and relying on a McGregor wonder save on the line to keep the deficit at two at the whistle.
Hull started the second half the better side, and in keeping the ball efficiently, the squad began to look like the most adept and comfortable of the three promoted sides so far.
Mourinho's side took their foot off the pedal a little, and the opening 15 minutes were only brightened by the odd long-range effort from De Bruyne and Oscar.
Bruce's new signings, Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore, were introduced around the 60-minute mark, and the former's immense passing range was soon on display.
58: Hull City Subs - Huddlestone and Livermore coming on to replace Meyler and Graham #hcafc— Hull City Official (@hullcityteam) August 18, 2013
It was the catalyst for the Tigers' best spell of the match, with the visitors hemming Chelsea into their own box for several minutes as crosses, passes and shots were consistently pinged in.
Chelsea began to exercise their immense squad depth late, handing a debut to Andre Schurrle and replacing Fernando Torres with Romelu Lukaku.
Both subs were immediately in the thick of it, with Lukaku feeding Ramires, and the Brazilian slipping Schurrle in on the goal. The resulting chipped effort cleared the bar, then Lukaku's cross from the right-hand byline was cleared.
With the result confirmed, the Blues played out the final minutes to seal an opening day victory and a well-earned clean sheet.
Key Player Grades
Kevin De Bruyne: A
The Belgian playmaker showed the home crowd what they've been missing for the past two seasons, putting together an immense 66-minute debut.
His vision to slip Oscar through on goal for the opener was incredible, and his all-around game was extremely tidy.
Frank Lampard: A-
Despite missing a penalty, Lampard reminded us all why Chelsea would've been mad to let him walk away on a free transfer this summer.
His thunderbolt free kick, to make it 2-0, crushed any hope Hull had of making a comeback.
Allan McGregor: B+
A moment of madness excused, McGregor saved a penalty from Lampard and made several critical stops throughout the game.
His goal-line reflex save on the brink of half-time kept the scoreline respectable, allowing Bruce's side reason for hope as the second half began.
|Kevin De Bruyne||A|
|Andre Schurrle (on 67')||B-|
|Romelu Lukaku (on 75')||N/A|
|Marco van Ginkel (on 83')||N/A|
|Tom Huddlestone (on 58')||B-|
|Jake Livermore (on 58')||C+|
|George Boyd (on 78')||N/A|
Chelsea are back in action almost immediately, hosting Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, August 21.
Hull will have all week to gear up for a critical home tie with Norwich on Saturday, August 24.
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