Football: Far from perfect but Sarri's Blues get the win

Chelsea defender Marcos Alonso winning a penalty after he is fouled by Huddersfield Town's Christopher Schindler with half-time approaching. New signing Jorginho marked his league debut with a goal from the resultant spot kick.
Chelsea defender Marcos Alonso winning a penalty after he is fouled by Huddersfield Town's Christopher Schindler with half-time approaching. New signing Jorginho marked his league debut with a goal from the resultant spot kick.PHOTO: REUTERS

ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

Huddersfield 0

Chelsea 3


LONDON • Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri got off to a winning start in the Premier League after his side defeated Huddersfield Town 3-0 at the John Smith's Stadium yesterday.

"I am truly very happy. The first part of the championship, it is not easy to gain points. It was difficult in the first half against a very physical team," the Italian said.

"We have to move the ball faster. We did it better in the second half, there was more space and time.

"We are lucky now because we can work with one match a week. We have to improve in this month, then it might be difficult with the national teams (during the international break). I hope in this month to improve the team."

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    Huddersfield 0 Chelsea 3

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N'Golo Kante, fresh from winning the World Cup with France, opened the scoring in the 34th minute with a mis-hit strike from Willian's cross before new signing Jorginho's cheeky penalty at the stroke of half-time made it 2-0.

With three points more or less assured, Sarri brought on star forward Eden Hazard - who has been linked to Real Madrid all summer - in the 76th minute.

The Belgian returned to training just this week following the World Cup but did not seem like he was lacking match fitness and made an instant impact just four minutes later with a fine piece of skill.

In typical fashion, he dribbled the ball forward from his own half and drew defenders towards him before passing to the unmarked Pedro, who made no mistake for the third goal.

Kepa Arrizabalaga, the most expensive goalkeeper in the world at £71.6 million (S$126 million), made his debut for the London club having signed only on Wednesday.

According to Opta, Chelsea's 3-0 win was the largest margin of victory in their first Premier League game under a new manager since 2008, when Luiz Felipe Scolari oversaw a 4-0 win against Portsmouth.

It is a significant boost for Sarri, who on Friday warned that "Sarri-ball" will take months to take effect as his players adjust to a new attacking style of play.

But his real test will come next week, when they take on Arsenal at Stamford Bridge.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 12, 2018, with the headline 'Far from perfect but Sarri's Blues get the win'. Print Edition | Subscribe