| Tottenham Hotspur goal-scorer Soldado celebrates with teammates, on Sunday |
London: Chelsea celebrated Jose Mourinho’s Stamford Bridge home-coming with an easy 2-0 win over promoted Hull City in their Premier League opener on Sunday, despite an early penalty miss from Frank Lampard.
Fellow Portuguese manager Andre Villas-Boas also began the season with a victory over a promoted side when Tottenham Hotspur won 1-0 at Crystal Palace with a penalty from new Spanish signing Roberto Soldado.
The victories came the day after David Moyes began his Manchester United league career as successor to Alex Ferguson with a 4-1 win at Swansea, Liverpool beat Stoke City 1-0 while Arsenal were thumped 3-1 at home by Aston Villa.
Brazil midfielder Oscar put Chelsea ahead after 13 minutes, slotting low past goalkeeper Allan McGregor from Kevin de Bruyne’s though-ball into the box.
Lampard, who had his sixth-minute penalty and also a 15th-minute shot saved by McGregor, eventually got on the scoresheet with a swerving free kick that dipped in under the crossbar for a 2-0 lead in the 25th.
“I’m very happy with the victory because what we did in the first half was very good,” Mourinho said.
“I’m not surprised our second half could not be the same as the first... The intensity of our game went down, the pre-season wasn’t easy and this was a week when almost every one of these players was involved with their national teams.”
Mourinho, who has yet to taste defeat at Stamford Bridge in the league having gone unbeaten in 60 home matches during his first spell at the club from 2004 to 2007, will have been pleased with the clean sheet.
Chelsea dominated the first half when they could have doubled their tally but play evened out in the second after manager Steve Bruce had firmed up his Hull side at halftime.
“We know that in this country it's not easy to play that quality of football because opponents defend very well and give no distance between the lines,” Mourinho aid.
“In the second half Steve made the team compact and gave them some belief... but to be fair we were more close to a third goal.”
The closest Chelsea came to a third goal was when newly signed German substitute Andre Schuerrle raced away on the right and chipped the advancing McGregor from the edge of the box but his effort went over.
Hull’s best chance was a 73rd-minute header from Curtis Davies that forced Petr Cech to stretch for the save.
Tottenham, who were not awarded a single penalty last season, were given the spot kick early in the second half for an unfortunate handball by Palace defender Dean Moxey as he tried to block a dangerous Aaron Lennon cross.
Soldado, a 26 million pound ($40.60 million) signing from Valencia, then coolly slotted his effort inside Julian Speroni's right hand post with the keeper going the other way.
“Roberto’s a real out and out striker. He's not been here a lot because of the Confederations Cup but he’ll get fitter and sharper and will be even better,” Spurs manager Villas-Boas told reporters.
Argentine Speroni was the busier keeper helping to keep Spurs at bay especially with a brilliant leap to tip over a shot from midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson in the first half.
Tottenham, without injured forward Gareth Bale who scored 21 league goals last season and has been a transfer target of Real Madrid's for most of the off-season, were guilty of missing more chances that could have settled the match long before the end.
“We should have put the game to bed but I'm generally very pleased to come to a difficult ground and get the three points,” said Villas-Boas. “Roberto’s a real out and out striker. He’s not been here a lot because of the Confederations Cup but he’ll get fitter and sharper and will be even better,” Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas told reporters.
In a nerve-wracking final few minutes Spurs were indebted to goalkeeper Hugo Lloris for a double save from Kagisho Dikgacoi. (Reuters)