Chelsea marks Mourinho's EPL return with Hull win - NBC Sports

Chelsea marks Mourinho's EPL return with Hull win
August 18, 2013, 3:45 pm
LONDON - During his six years away, Jose Mourinho and his legion of Chelsea fans always craved a homecoming like this.

Stamford Bridge was euphoric as Mourinho stepped back onto the pitch to the universal acclaim of Chelsea supporters, sweeping aside in an instant the years of acrimony and division since the Portuguese manager left.

Then, inside 25 minutes, Hull was ripped apart with ease as Chelsea's dynamism ensured it opened its Premier League campaign with a 2-0 victory on Sunday.

There will be tougher days to come before May, but the goals from Oscar and Frank Lampard ensured Chelsea quickly moved on - in unison - from the Rafa Benitez era.

"I'm happy we managed to win and show this is the football we want to play and can play," said Mourinho, who won the title twice during his initial three-year reign at Chelsea. "Now it's up to me to make it happen more often."

The jeers that regularly greeted Benitez during his contentious six-month reign last season are a distant memory.

After the pre-match roar from the fans, kisses were blown in return by Mourinho, who has spent the six years away from west London collecting titles with Inter Milan and Real Madrid.

The fans who were demanding "we want our Chelsea back" a few months ago appear now to have got their way.

"It's great for the players to feel the atmosphere around," Mourinho said, adding "we are together."

The "Happy One" - as he anointed himself after years as the "Special One"- stressed to fans: "I am at home again."

Bringing Mourinho back forced owner Roman Abramovich into a climb-down, after having gone through seven managers without truly satisfying the fans.

Sunday was also a chance for the club to reflect on its progress in the decade since the Russian billionaire pumped his money into the club.

The owner issued a rare statement - on the program cover - pledging to deliver "many more years of success" and made a rare pre-match appearance in the dressing room.

The pep-talk worked, with Abramovich witnessing just the sort of high-tempo football he desires. It didn't immediately follow the script, though.

After Fernando Torres was fouled by goalkeeper Allan McGregor after five minutes, Frank Lampard stepped up to take the penalty. The club's all-time leading scorer struck low to his left and McGregor batted the ball away.

But the Scotland goalkeeper was beaten in the 13th with a goal created by a pair of Belgium internationals. Played in by Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard's resulting through ball was met by Oscar, who slipped it under the onrushing McGregor.

By now, the Chelsea onslaught was relentless. Hull just couldn't cope with the Europa League winners and was contained inside its own half.

The second goal in the 25th was of the highest quality.

Making amends for his earlier penalty miss, Lampard struck fiercely from 30 yards with a free kick that dipped over McGregor to make it 204 goals for Chelsea.

Only in the closing phases of the half did Hull manage to make incursions into Chelsea territory, but the home defense proved to be an impenetrable barrier.

Chelsea's push for a third, though, featured an effort from Lampard that was punched clear, Gary Cahill slice the ball wide and McGregor block Branislav Ivanovic's header.

If the referee was in any doubt that the ball didn't cross the line when it was scooped by McGregor, the newly introduced Hawk-Eye cameras confirmed it wasn't a goal.

England's topflight is the first league in the world to use goal-line technology in all matches from this season following FIFA's approval, but referees don't disclose whether they relied on the cameras to make decisions.

There was greater intensity from Hull in the second half, with Chelsea's lead coming under threat after new arrivals Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore made an immediate impact after coming off the bench.

"We were so bright in that first half that there is bound to be a come down in the second," Lampard.

But a strike from Robbie Brady and Curtis Davies' header were repelled by goalkeeper Petr Cech as the hosts matched champion Manchester United in opening with a win.

For Hull manager Steve Bruce, spoiling Mourinho's homecoming never looked realistic.

"What a difference the stadium was to how it was 12 months ago," Bruce said. "The whole ground is behind the new manager. It made it difficult for us."

And the Chelsea squad could be even get stronger, with Mourinho not giving up on the pursuit of unsettled Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney.

"We will try till the last day to add a new player to the squad - a striker," Mourinho said.

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