Three points, a clean sheet for Kepa Arrizabalaga and a Premier League debut goal for Jorginho ensured it was the perfect start to the Maurizio Sarri reign, as we opened the new campaign with an impressive 3-0 win at Huddersfield this afternoon.
After a fairly even opening half-hour the Blues began to take control, with Willian instrumental, and two goals in quick succession
towards the end of the first half – from N’Golo Kante and Jorginho – put us firmly in the ascendancy.
The Blues were dominant in the second half and went close to extending our lead through Toni Rudiger and Marcos Alonso, who struck the woodwork, before Pedro put the seal on the victory with a fine finish following a wonderful run and assist by Eden Hazard, who had come off the bench moments earlier.
Both Kepa and Jorginho were named in the side for Sarri’s first Premier League game in charge of the Blues, and there were also starts for Kante and Willian
Cesar Azpilicueta, starting at right-back in a 4-3-3 formation, captained the Blues while David Luiz and Rudiger formed a central-defensive pairing.
Ross Barkley started on the left of the midfield trio and Alvaro Morata, making his 50th Chelsea appearance, was chosen to lead the line.
Hazard and the returning Ruben Loftus-Cheek were named among the subs, Cesc Fabregas missed out due to a small injury.
After a tight opening few minutes, the first real moment of quality was produced by Willian, who burst away from three Huddersfield players with a delightful piece of skill, before laying it into the path of Alonso whose cross came to nothing.
The Blues - wearing our changed strip of yellow shirts, yellow shorts and blue socks – were seeing plenty of the ball early on and moving it sharply, as Sarri urges his teams to do, but the home side were keeping their shape well and making it difficult for our creative players to exert their influence on the contest.
Kepa was called into action for the first time just before the 20-minute mark but it was a comfortable save for the Spaniard as he got a strong pair of hands behind Alex Pritchard’s long-range strike.
From a similar position, Steve Mounie then flashed a shot just over the bar for Huddersfield and at the other end, as Willian looked to burst clear, Terence Kongolo produced a well-timed tackle to thwart the Brazilian.
As the half-hour mark approached there had been no clear-cut goalscoring opportunities at either end, although the contest as a whole was developing into an intriguing one.
Willian, playing on the left, was looking increasingly threatening as the half wore on, and 11 minutes before the break a moment of class from the winger led to the deadlock being broken through an unlikely source.
Pedro, receiving the ball from Jorginho, did well to advance from deep and slipped it out wide to Willian, whose raw pace took him beyond Florent Hadergjonaj. A teasing delivery to the far post fell invitingly for Kante, who struck a left-footed volley towards goal, with a deflection helping it past Ben Hamer and into the back of the net to give us the lead.
The home side were almost back on level terms in a matter of minutes as Mounie headed against the inside of the post after Mathias Zanka had flicked on a corner, with the game springing to life as the first half edged towards its conclusion, but crucially Kante’s goal had given us a priceless advantage.
Our fortunes improved further just before half-time as Jorginho found Barkley inside the penalty area, and as the midfielder slipped it through to Alonso with a smart flick, the left-back was brought down by Christopher Schindler as he looked to get his shot away, leaving the referee with no option but to point to the spot.
Jorginho, making his Premier League debut for the Blues, stepped forward and calmly rolled his kick into the back of the net, meaning Sarri’s side headed in at the break with a 2-0 lead.
The Blues started the second half on the front foot and shortly after the restart we went close to adding a third goal twice in quick succession, first when Rudiger’s well-placed header was saved low down to his left by Hamer, and then again when the German defender’s flick-on was hooked against the bar by Alonso.
Barkley then teed up Willian, who cut inside and saw his right-footed strike deflected just over the bar, before Alonso went close with a free-kick as we looked to put daylight between ourselves and David Wagner’s side.
Sarri, who will have been pleased by the postive way his team approached the second half, made his first change of the afternoon with 22 minutes remaining as one English midfielder replaced another, Loftus-Cheek coming on for Barkley.
Loftus-Cheek's arrival was quickly followed by that of Hazard, who replaced Willian, but as the game entered its final 15 minutes there was an increased sense of urgency in Huddersfield's play. Azpilicueta was forced to produce an important defensive header from a dangerous cross before Aaron Mooy screwed a strike over the bar.
Hazard's quality was in evidence immediately, and a superb piece of play from the Belgian led to the goal which killed the game off and secured three important points.
Collecting the ball inside his own half, Hazard eased away from a couple of Huddersfield challenges in a manner Chelsea fans have grown accustomed to seeing, before driving towards goal and slipping the ball into the path of the unmarked Pedro, who produced a lovely finish, dinking the ball over Hamer to make it 3-0.
Hazard was in the mood and moments later he was brought down after another scintillating run in which the Huddersfield defenders simply couldn't get near him.
Morata saw a late strike defelected behind but all in all it was a great day's work for the Blues, and the ideal way to start a new season.
Attention now turns to our first home game of the new season, the small matter of a London derby against Arsenal next Saturday.
Chelsea (4-3-3): Kepa; Azpilicueta (c), Rudiger, David Luiz, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho, Barkley (Loftus-Cheek 68); Pedro (Moses 80), Morata, Willian (Hazard 75).
Unused subs: Subs: Caballero, Christensen, Zappacosta, Giroud.
Scorers Kante 34, Jorginho (pen) 44, Pedro 80
Booked David Luiz 69
Huddersfield (3-5-2): Hamer; Kongolo, Schindler, Zanka; Hadergjonaj, Mooy, Billing, Hogg (c), Lowe (Diakhaby 71); Pritchard (Depoitre h/t), Mounie.
Unused subs: Lossl, Smith, Ramadan, Van La Parrra, Stankovic
Booked Schindler 44, Kongolo 83
Referee Chris Kavanagh