Chelsea made it two wins from two against newly-promoted sides as they battled to a 2-0 victory against Leicester City.
A sturdy first-half performance by the visitors left the home side shaky in the first half, but as the new boys tired, so Chelsea grew into their stride and goals from first Costa and then Hazard sealed the three vital points.
It was not pretty, but it was effective. First-half jitters meant the only real opportunity fell to Diego Costa, but Leicester did well to throw so many bodies in the way.
The second half was where the game really went up a notch. Oscar smashed a shot against the post as Chelsea edged closer, but the same man could so nearly have let Chelsea go one behind in the 55th minute. Leicester broke from Schurrle’s corner and Oscar needed to pick up the onrushing Nugent, who was threw on goal. The Brazilian inexplicably stopped running, lazily hoping he would catch Nugent off-side, which left Courtois to save. It was a hugely nerve-wracking moment for the Blues.
Branislav Ivanovic has been tried as the emergency centre-forward in pre-season and was up there at every Chelsea attack, including Costa’s goal, to whom he would give the assist. It was a scrappy affair but Ivanovic’s cross bumped off Costa’s chest and the Brazilian-turned-Spaniard swung a leg at it as it trickled into the net.
Chelsea’s second from Hazard had a better element of skill. The winger, who spent so much of the match on the right, drifted to the left. Only one thing was on his mind — to cut in and shoot — and maybe Leicester’s own fatigue stopped from them from foreseeing the predictable, but the Belgian’s daisy-cutter flew into the net.
Drogba managed another cameo as he replaced Diego Costa to a huge ovation, with Abramovich himself clearly delighted with the day’s proceedings.
Man of the Match
THIBAUT COURTOIS: The one-on-one save from Nugent was absolutely huge — Chelsea only got going after conceding first against Burnley but this Nugent save was quite some way into the match that you might not have seen Chelsea come back, particularly with how well Leicester were parking the bus. Not that there was any room for error for Courtois, who himself is risking his reputation, but he seems like he has adjusted well. 8/10
Jose Mourinho was relieved to get the points: “We didn’t play good in the first half. Leicester came with great defensive intensity, we were a bit slow in moving the ball and slow in thinking. The second half was compete control. They had a good chance [through David Nugent] with the result 0-0 but we had so many chances we deserved the victory.”
Nigel Pearson was left to rue his side’s defeat: “We’re disappointed. Key moments didn’t quite go our way today. I thought we played exceptionally well in the first half but it’s about taking your chances when you get them.”