Maurizio Sarri made a winning start as a Premier League manager as his Chelsea side produced a dominant performance to win at Huddersfield Town.
Sarri, who became the club’s 10th full-time manager in 10 years when he replaced the sacked Antonio Conte in the summer, saw his side take the lead with their first shot on target.
It came in the 34th minute when N’Golo Kante’s mis-hit strike from Willian’s cross bounced past Huddersfield goalkeeper Ben Hamer.
Jorginho followed Sarri from Napoli to Chelsea in the summer and the midfielder doubled the Blues’ lead when he converted a penalty after Christopher Schindler fouled Marcos Alonso.
Pedro sealed a comfortable win with a cool, chipped finish for Chelsea’s third after being played in by substitute Eden Hazard.
Before the second goal, the Terriers had hit a post through Steve Mounie’s header, but it was to be Sarri’s and Chelsea’s day.
A good day for the new boss
Sarri’s Chelsea lost 2-0 to Manchester City in the Community Shield last Sunday, but this was a perfect start to their Premier League campaign.
A fifth-placed finish in 2017-18 and the resulting failure to secure Champions League qualification saw former manager Conte get sacked in July, despite winning the league in his first season at the club and the FA Cup in his second.
Sarri, 59, was chosen to replace him after guiding Napoli to second place in Serie A last season, although he had warned Chelsea’s fans to “expect some problems” in their opening games and that it would take three months for them to find their best form.
They were not at their best against Huddersfield, but were still far too good for David Wagner’s side.
After a slow start, Kante, who helped France win the World Cup less than a month ago, gave Chelsea the lead, and it became 2-0 when Jorginho calmly converted a penalty after Schindler had dived in and caught Alonso’s foot.
That goal, just before half time, changed the game and Huddersfield struggled to create chances and gain possession of the ball in the second half.
An acrobatic effort from Alonso hit the crossbar and, as the hosts pushed for a way back into the game, they were caught on the break when Hazard set up Pedro, who sealed the victory.
Huddersfield’s home problems continue – the stats
- Including caretakers, Maurizio Sarri is the ninth consecutive Chelsea manager to avoid defeat in his first Premier League game in charge, with Avram Grant the last to lose his debut fixture (0-2 v Manchester United in September 2007).
- Chelsea’s 3-0 win was the largest margin of victory in their first Premier League game under a new manager since 2008, when Luiz Felipe Scolari oversaw a 4-0 win against Portsmouth.
- Chelsea have not suffered an opening day defeat away from home in the Premier League since 1998-99 (2-1 v Coventry), winning six and drawing one of their seven such games since.
- Huddersfield have lost five of their last seven opening games of a league campaign (won two), failing to score in each of those five defeats.
- Huddersfield have picked up just nine points from their last possible 36 in Premier League home games (won two, drawn three, lost seven), with the first game in this run being a 1-3 defeat against Chelsea last season.
- N’Golo Kante’s opener for Chelsea was his first Premier League goal since September, and just his fourth in 107 appearances in the competition overall.
- Jorginho has scored 10 of the 11 penalties he has taken in the top five European leagues (all competitions) for three different clubs (Verona, Napoli and Chelsea).
- Willian has been directly involved in four of Chelsea’s six Premier League goals at the John Smith’s Stadium, scoring one and assisting another three.
Chelsea face what looks to be a tougher task in their next match as they entertain Arsenal in the Premier League on 18 August (17:30 BST). Huddersfield’s challenging start to their Premier League season continues as they play away at champions Manchester City on 19 August (13:30 BST).
More to follow.