Chelsea had Diego Costa to thank as they maintained their 100% start to the season with a 2-0 win over Leicester at Stamford Bridge. The Blues had to work hard for the win, with Leicester holding out for over an hour, but ultimately the result was just about deserved.
Leicester weren’t just hanging in the game, the Foxes had the better chances in the first half, and deserved lead on the run of play. David Nugent went close after the half time break, but it was the Blues who broke the deadlock. Once again it was Diego Costa who came to the rescue, scoring from close range. Eden Hazard then secured the win with just over 10 minutes left.
Leicester were the second promoted side that Chelsea have faced this season, after their 3-1 win over Burnley last Monday night. Jose Mourinho’s team started slowly here, and it looked like the Chelsea of last season who couldn’t break down smaller teams had returned. Leicester had enough chances to cause a shock, but thanks to Thibault Courtois the game stayed goalless long enough for the home side to get a foothold in the match.
After an hour, the hosts finally found their way through to goal. Costa, the man brought in to cure Chelsea’s striking problems, put them ahead. Branislav Ivanovic’s cross into the box bounced around before falling to the Spaniard, and he had no problem firing home for his second goal of the season.
The second Chelsea goal came from Eden Hazard, although he was helped by poor keeping from Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel. The Foxes’ goalie allowed the ball to slip underneath him, gifting Hazard his first goal of the season.
This was far from the, “90 minute performance” that Jose Mourinho asked from his side after the win at Burnley, but it was still an important one. This is exactly the kind of game that Chelsea failed to win last season. After their struggles with packed defences last term, teams are going to come to the Bridge and defend deep, but with Fabregas and Costa now in the side the Blues can break the resolve of stubborn visitors. This is a big step for Mourinho’s side, and there is surely better to come.
After the game, Mourinho was honest about their slow start, and thanked his keeper for keeping them in the game. “We didn’t play well first half,” Mourinho said. “Leicester showed great defensive intensity, and came with fast transitions, trying to scare us on the counter-attack. We were a bit slow – slow moving the ball, slow thinking – and we needed to change. Sometimes you don’t need to change players, just your attitude towards the game. And we did that.
On Courtois, Mourinho added: “That’s what Petr did so many times in this club year after year, so it’s nothing new for us. It’s important at a big club to have the kind of goalkeeper who’s almost sleeping during the match, and suddenly in the right moment he says ‘yes, I’m here’. Thibaut did this, the same way Petr did so many times for us.”
LCN Man of the Match: Branislav Ivanovic