Chelsea vs Leicester City match report: Diego Costa and Eden Hazard come to the rescue after stubborn Foxes threatened to cause a shock

Chelsea 2 Leicester City 0

Stamford Bridge

Cuddly Chelsea? Hold that thought. Let’s not prepare, prematurely, for the culture shock of football’s arch-pragmatists being transformed into poets. The equivalent of John Terry reinventing himself as a sandal-wearing, muesli-knitting, bleeding heart liberal is some way off.

Idealists dared to dream after Burnley were eviscerated on the opening weekend by the speed, movement and creativity of a team which has been strengthened significantly and strategically for the Second Coming’s second season.

This was a win more in the traditional Jose Mourinho mould, a reward for patience and remorselessness after a frustrating first hour against a well-organised, defiantly durable, newly promoted side.

There is still Something of the Night about Mourinho. He described ever-decreasing circles in his technical area, and pirouetted angrily when Dean Hammond, Leicester’s principal irritant, scythed down André Schürrle before the breakthrough came. He admitted he had to “be a little bit emotional” at half-time.

With him, and to a significant degree Louis van Gaal, the team will never be the star. Collective reputation is secondary to the individuality of his personality. It remains easy to imagine him stealing through fog-shrouded streets, trailing a silky black cape and an air of mystery, but Chelsea have pretensions to be something other than the glee club of an Evil Empire.

They handed out free foam hands to home fans, and peddled T-shirts which depicted Mourinho, somewhat improbably, as The Happy One. A brass band in the forecourt massacred Coldplay’s greatest hits, which may be lift music in the seventh circle of Hell, but it provided a welcome, of sorts.

Mourinho bizarrely used the weather as an excuse for Chelsea’s self-confessed “laziness” in the first half, and stretched credulity still further by suggesting that Fernando Torres has a viable role as one of three regularly rotated strikers.

Despite perceptions that the Spaniard is available for the price of a deep-crust pizza and a bag of sticky toffees, Mourinho insisted his absence from the match day squad was not a signal he is about to join Ashley Cole at Roma, Serie A’s answer to the Sunnyside Senior Citizens’ retreat. 

Mourinho’s clinical marginalisation of Petr Cech, after a decade’s service, in favour of Thibaut Courtois, gives him another option since he needs to shed a foreign player from his squad before 1 September to meet Premier League regulations.

There is no-one more isolated than yesterday’s man. Cech, an incongruous figure in his superfluous skull cap, was forced to sit and listen to Stamford Bridge echoing with a chant of “Thibaut” following his replacement’s pivotal one-on-one save from David Nugent.

New heroes are emerging, as old heroes return. It took Torres 19 Premier League matches to accumulate two goals last season. Diego Costa has required only two games to do so. He will not disappear into football’s Bermuda Triangle, the void into which Chelsea forwards of recent vintage have vanished.

When Branislav Ivanovic, freed by Oscar’s subtle pass, squared the ball to the naturalised Spaniard in the 63rd minute Costa’s first touch was poor; he scored with his second. They might as well save time now, and arrange his fitting for the Premier League’s golden boot.

Cesc Fabregas, a fellow refugee from La Liga, is filling the spiritual vacuum left by fabled Frank. He has Lampard’s taut, slightly hunched shoulders as he demands the ball and dictates the tempo of attacks. Though initially wasteful in possession, he still set up Chelsea’s second.

Demand that Eden Hazard tracks back, and he responds with the disdain of a duchess asked to scrub the scullery floor. Give him an inviting pass and a tiring full back and he is a king among men. Leicester’s fate was sealed when he cut in from the left past Ritchie De Laet, and scored with a right foot shot under the outstanding Kasper Schmeichel, following a slight deflection off the lunging Wes Morgan.

So can Chelsea win the title? Mourinho, conscious of the magnitude of the opportunity squandered when they were top of the League with nine matches remaining last season, insisted “we have a lot of work to do”. He was hardly likely to say anything else.

At least Leicester didn’t join their unlikely list of conquerors in the spring, which included Aston Villa, Sunderland and Crystal Palace. The consequences of a lack of drive and intensity, reflected by a first half performance which had the fluidity of slow-setting cement, are obvious.

Successful clubs feed off the men tal energy created by a yearning for players of emotional stature, and the totemic Didier Drogba will be an important factor as the season wears on. He is not a natural starter these days, but the primal scream of hope and exultation which greeted his arrival with 10 minutes left suggests the feelgood factor is back at the Bridge.

Even Roman Abramovich joined in the standing ovation from his executive eyrie. When an Oligarch is on his feet, applauding with arms extended over his head despite the embarrassment of sweaty armpits, anything is possible.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas