Carlo Ancelotti's exuberant celebrations to acclaim Didier Drogba's fluked stoppage-time winner was a moment for Chelsea fans to cherish. The new Chelsea manager ran on to the Stamford Bridge pitch and punched the air repeatedly in delight.
As celebrations go, it wasn't quite Jose Mourinho sprinting down the touchline at Old Trafford, but then we mustn't forget that Carlo's a heavy smoker who's carrying a couple of extra stone, at least. But it demonstrated that underneath his affable exterior beats the passionate heart of a genuine football man, not someone who is at Chelsea just for the money.
The portly Italian confessed afterwards he was desperate for a cigarette at the final whistle, as he is not allowed to smoke on the touchline. Although as his English does not yet include the phrase "I'm dying for a fag" he expressed his desire for a shot of nicotine by puffing out his ample cheeks and grinning.
It's no wonder Ancelotti was so keen for a cigarette. Chelsea had dominated Hull but could only win in added time when Drogba's intended cross looped over Baoz Myhill. Asked what Ancelotti's reaction had been in the dressing room afterwards, Drogba wiped his brow and said: "Phew." Miming seems to be all the rage at Stamford Bridge, which perhaps is understandable given the manager's limited vocabulary.
Ancelloti was introduced to the home fans on Saturday to loud applause, and responded with a couple of perfunctory waves from the dugout. But as Drogba ran to the fans whirling his shirt in the air to salute his fortunate winner, Ancelotti gave his emotions full rein.
Afterwards he spoke of his passion for the job. "Whoever works in this environment has passion – passionate players, passionate fans, a passionate coach," he said.
It is sentiment shared by the Hull manager, Phil Brown, who saw Stephen Hunt mark his debut with a studs-up foul on Frank Lampard in the first minute that might have earned him a red card. Brown said: "You are putting a marker down in terms of the game. That is the old-fashioned way of doing it. If Stephen is an old-fashioned football player I'll take them any day."
Booed by Chelsea fans for the challenge which fractured Petr Cech's skull three years ago, Hunt gave Hull a shock lead after 28 minutes, when a ricochet fell kindly for him.
Drogba, however, was Chelsea's inspiration. The Ivorian took a leaf out of Cristiano Ronaldo's book by hitting the valve on the ball to score with a dipping free-kick from 30 yards. Drogba said: "I think his free-kick was a little better than mine."
Drogba, Nicolas Anelka and Michael Essien all missed good chances and Hull defended with all their might. But just when it seemed the visitors would grab a point Drogba fluked in Chelsea's winner. He tried to find Salomon Kalou with a cross from the left, but a touch of slice drifted it into the top corner instead.
Ancelotti's main task is to give his diamond a polish. He says he will persevere with the midfield formation all season if he has to until it becomes second nature to the players. Against Hull he chopped and changed who went where, but the narrow system remained unconvincing.
Lampard was subdued, outnumbered by Hull's rearguard in front of him, while John Obi Mikel was withdrawn from the holding role for the second time in two games. Plenty of food for thought for Ancelotti before tomorrow's testing trip to Sunderland.
Chelsea (4-4-2): Cech; Bosingwa, Carvalho, Terry, A Cole; Essien, Mikel (Ballack, h-t), Lampard, Malouda (Deco, 69); Drogba, Anelka (Kalou, 79). Substitutes not used: Turnbull (gk), Ivanovic, Sturridge, Hutchinson.
Hull City (4-5-1): Myhill; Mouyokolo, Turner, Gardner, Dawson; Mendy (Geovanni, 78), Marney (Barmby, 44), Olofinjana, Boateng, Hunt (Ghilas, 78); Folan. Substitutes not used: Duke (gk), Halmosi, Zayatte, Cousin.
Referee: A Wiley (Staffordshire).
Man of the match: Drogba.
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