Exactly after 3 months after being named as new European champions, Chelsea got out of the blocks early, scoring two goals and then shut up the shop to earn three game points at Wigan’s DW stadium this afternoon. It took the Blues one minute and 50 seconds, in fact, to put behind their poor pre-season form and it was a classic counter-attack.
Breaking up a Wigan attack, the ball was fed in the centre circle spot to Eden Hazard, and the Belgium midfielder spun round James McCarthy before inching the perfect defence-splitting ball to overlapping Branislav Ivanovic, on the right. The Serbian full-back raced into the Wigan area and coolly slotted the ball home comfortably past Ali Al Habsi.
Wigan, to their credit, responded well from the early setback and forced the Blues back. But Petr Cech was on hand to snatch out of the air any ball centred by Blues transfer target Victor Moses or Maynor Figueroa on the Wigan wings. Latics skipper Gary Caldwell entered the referee’s book with a scything tackle from behind on Hazard on 16 minutes. Soon after, ex-Chelsea striker Franco Di Santo had an excellent chance to score when he rose above David Luiz and met a deep right-wing cross from Moses. However, his header from eight yards out just dipped over Cech’s crossbar.
A blistering drive from Moses from the right of the Chelsea area, on 39 minutes forced Cech into making a fine save. Deep into added time, Wigan broke quickly – a deflected knock-on by Luiz saw the ball fall perfectly to Di Santo, but once again, Cech was equal to the task, parrying away the right-footed drive to safety.
The second half started similar to the first with the Blues in the ascendency. Fernando Torres had a chance to seal the game on 64 minutes when a flick on by Ryan Bertrand saw the Spanish hit-man race into the Wigan penalty area. However, after getting a touch to the ball, which went under Al Habsi’s body, Torres saw his effort dribble towards goal before being hacked away by Ramis on the line.
Oscar, a £25m summer signing from Internacional entered the fray for his Chelsea debut for a tiring Hazard a minute later. It took the Brazilian international midfielder 30 seconds before he almost struck gold. He outpaced Ramis on the right and let fly with a daisy-cutter which inched past Al Habsi’s right- hand post. Jordi Gomez, with 15 minutes to go, drove a fierce left-footed free-kick past the Chelsea rearguard, but Cech, safe as ever, snuffed out the chance. Wigan substitute Arouna Kone’s bullet header from a Gomez’s corner beat Cech and zipped past Cech’s post with seven minutes remaining as he home side went into overdrive to get back the game.
Gomez then had an athletic overhead kick sail wide of Chelsea’s goal as the Blues dug in deep to defend their two-goal advantage. But Chelsea had enough to defend deep and run out time.
“(He was) brilliant. It’s not easy at a young age to come into the Premier League no matter how good a player you are. “You always want to get a win on the opening day and I think coming here, the way they finished the season last year it was a very tough game and we started very well, through this man (Hazard) mainly and it was great football. He said: “Yes I’m very happy. My first game, a win, it’s OK.” Lampard on Hazard
- Chelsea ease past Wigan as debutant Hazard impresses (standard.co.uk)
- Quickfire Chelsea too strong for Wigan (fifa.com)
- Wigan 0 Chelsea 2 (thesun.co.uk)
- Live Sport Reports: Di Matteo lauds Hazard (walesonline.co.uk)