Four players made their Chelsea debuts but it was a long-established regular who scored the only goal of the game.
A tight and keenly contested first half ended with the Blues taking the lead from the penalty spot, Jorginho converting after a foul on Ben Chilwell. It proved enough to overcome our recent Goodison Park hoodoo and get our Premier League challenge up and running.
Raheem Sterling was impressive throughout and had the ball in the net before the penalty but was denied a debut goal by an offside flag. Edouard Mendy made one good save while the game was goalless and another in the second half.
With Everton defending deeply and plenty of commitment from both sides on Matchday One, there had been close battles across the pitch with the Londoners well ahead on the corner and shots-on-target count by the interval.
Everton improved in the second half but the Blues saw out the win. Kalidou Koulibaly made some important contributions but did not complete the game after treatment on the pitch for cramp. He was replaced by Marc Cucurella.
Good at Goodison
After the misery of four straight defeats on our previous visits to this corner of Merseyside, we have won here for the first time since April 2017.
This victory also has the honour of being our earliest ever in the Premier League, which is celebrating the 30th anniversary of becoming England’s top flight, beating by one day our 4-0 success over Sunderland back in 1999.
The side showed only one change from the 11 who begun the first game against Udinese in pre-season, with Chilwell in at left wing-back in place of Marcos Alonso who was not involved.
Sterling was handed a debut in a front three alongside Kai Havertz and Mason Mount, and Koulibaly also made his Blues bow in the back three.
2022/23 kicks off
Though Everton were without the jeopardy of Chelsea’s last visit to Goodison Park, when their relegation fears were eased by their win that day, our players knew it would be a big atmosphere inside the stadium for this opening-weekend fixture, and a good start to the game to dampen it would be very useful.
Toffees defender Ben Godfrey almost presented us with one with an ill-judged back pass. The ball was going just wide and had indeed crossed the byline when Jordan Pickford hooked it back into play.
The assistant referee did not spot that and Havertz attacked the loose ball which ended up in the side-netting. While chasing back and challenging our striker, Godfrey sustained an injury that meant a short start to the new season for him. He was carried off.
Immediately after the lengthy delay, Mount forced the first save of the game from Pickford before Koulibaly was in the right place at the other end to make an important headed clearance.
Mendy was then called upon to tip a powerful header from James Tarkowski over the bar. There was quarter of the game played.
Everton were gaining momentum, roared on by their fans, but Sterling, who had earlier beaten his marker inside the penalty area with one good piece of skill, eased the pressure with a driving run from halfway which won a free-kick.
Back down the other end and as half-time drew near, N’Golo Kante did brilliantly to snuff out danger deep inside the Chelsea penalty area but we were not keeping the ball as well as needed.
Thiago Silva was able to block a pass as the Toffees counter-attacked with two onto two but it was Chelsea who ended the half on the up, although the first time we had the ball in the net the goal was ruled out.
Kante’s initial shot was too close to Pickford to spell much danger but when it bounced off the England goalkeeper, Sterling pounced and hit the target but from an offside position. The flag had been correctly raised.
During the long period of added time at the end of the first half due to the early injury stoppage, Chelsea won our 13th corner, one of the themes of the opening period, but it was from a set-piece of another kind that we took the lead.
One of the longest periods of possession enjoyed by the Blues ended with Chilwell heading for goal until he was pulled back by Abdoulaye Doucoure. Jorginho sent Pickford the wrong way with the penalty and we had the advantage going into the changing rooms.
Hesitation between Thiago Silva and Mendy allowed Demarai Gray a shot at the start of the second half but Thiago had recovered sufficiently to deflect it wide.
Mendy then had to react quickly to block a shot after he had pushed a corner away and the ball came back into the danger zone.
With Everton more in control of the game than at any point, Thomas Tuchel made a double substitution. He had said before the game that it was unlikely Chilwell, making his first start since November, would play the whole game and when he and Mount were withdrawn, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Christian Pulisic were introduced. It was James who switched wings to play on the left with Ruben the right-sider.
Still it was Everton who threatened. Substitute Dele Alli could not capitalise after the Toffees picked up a Koulibaly headed clearance. That was our new no.26’s last contribution. He signalled for treatment for cramp and as he walked back to the bench, he was replaced by Marc Cucurella. Armando Broja also came on for Havertz. His one previous appearance had been against Everton back in March 2020. Conor Gallagher was given his first minutes right at the end.
James sent a free-kick over the bar after Loftus-Cheek had been hauled down on the edge of the area, having been played in by Sterling, who soon after saw a shot deflected just wide after a good Cucurella cross.
As at the end of the first half, there was lengthy stoppage time to navigate but the sweet sound of the final whistle meant our first three points of the season are in the bag.
A London derby. At home. Against Tottenham. It is a great way to start our home season, with Sunday next weekend the day of the match. Spurs won their opener 4-1 at home to Southampton.
Chelsea (3-4-3): Mendy; Azpilicueta (c), Thiago Silva, Koulibaly (Cucurella 75); James, Kante, Jorginho (Gallagher 90+8), Chilwell (Loftus-Cheek 65); Mount (Pulisic 65), Havertz (Broja 75), Sterling
Unused subs Kepa, Chalobah, Kovacic, Ziyech
Scorer Jorginho 45+9 pen
Booked James 56, Cucurella 90+11
Everton (3-4-3): Pickford (c); Godfrey (Holgate 18), Mina (Vinagre 70), Tarkowski; Patterson, Doucoure, Iwobi, Mykolenko; McNeil (Alli 61), Gordon, Gray,
Unused subs Begovic, Keane, Allan, Gbamin, Mills, Warrington
Booked Mina 45+8, Mykolenko 80, Holgate 90+8
Referee Craig Pawson