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Chelsea sink Hull on Mourinho’s return

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JOSE-CHELSEA-CELEBLONDON, England, August 18 – Jose Mourinho marked his return to the Premier League by guiding his Chelsea side to a comfortable 2-0 victory over promoted Hull City at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Mourinho was back six years after the end of his first spell at the club and he got the perfect welcome, with early goals from Oscar and Frank Lampard ensuring the Blues made a winning start to the campaign.

With Roman Abramovich, the Chelsea owner, also marking his 10th anniversary at the west London club, there was a mood of celebration around the ground.

And while the atmosphere grew more muted as Mourinho’s side failed to build on their early dominance, there was no doubt this was a satisfactory start to the Portuguese’s second term.

Mourinho’s appearance before kick-off had prompted the expected, rousing response and the manager waved and blew kisses to the fans before taking his seat in the dug-out.

With the formalities over, focus turned to the match and Mourinho’s players soon showed that they had heeded their manager’s warning — written in the match-day programme — that “this game is not a testimonial”.

The line-up was familiar, with Kevin De Bruyne, making his Premier League debut after a season on loan at Werder Bremen, the only new face, but the Blues’ play had a freshness and urgency about it that brought early rewards.

Just five minutes had elapsed when Fernando Torres chased a through ball into the Hull area and was floored by Allan McGregor’s attempt to punch the ball clear.

The goalkeeper escaped a red card because Torres was heading away from goal and he made amends for his misjudgement by saving Lampard’s well-struck penalty.

Hull were reprieved, but McGregor’s save only delayed the inevitable.

The visitors were overwhelmed by the intensity of Chelsea’s forward play, with De Bruyne prominent alongside Eden Hazard and Oscar, operating just behind Torres.

And it was the combination of the three playmakers that brought about the opening goal in the 13th minute.

Hazard wriggled his way inside off the left flank and played the ball into De Bruyne, who cleverly stabbed the ball between the legs of centre-back James Chester to free Oscar, and the Brazilian slotted home from 10 yards.

It was a wonderfully incisive move and prompted a fist-pumping celebration from Mourinho.

Lampard, playing alongside Ramires in front of the Chelsea back four but pressing on whenever the opportunity arose, drew another excellent save from McGregor, before Hazard’s back-heel almost sent Ashley Cole clear.

Hull seemed in desperate trouble and they were punished once more four minutes later when Lampard took advantage of Chester’s foul on Torres to score the second with a superb, dipping free-kick from 30 yards.

Despite dominating, the home side failed to increase their lead during the remainder of the half.

Branislav Ivanovic came closest, with McGregor clawing his header away from beneath the crossbar. Hawk-Eye replays using the new Goal-line Decision System proved the ball had not crossed the line.

The urgency appeared to seep out of the game at the start of the second half, and Mourinho displayed his frustration when centre-backs Gary Cahill and John Terry completed a triangle of passes with goalkeeper Petr Cech.

The manager clearly was not satisfied with two goals, but Hull had found a way to contain the Blues and the introduction of Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore — recent arrivals from Tottenham Hotspur — gave the visitors more presence in midfield.

Chelsea should have been given the chance to make the game safe when Ivanovic appeared to have been pushed by Robbie Brady, but referee Jon Moss ignored appeals for a penalty.

And the party mood at Stamford Bridge was further threatened when Cech was forced to save from Curtis Davies’ free header.

That proved a passing threat, however, and Chelsea eased their way to the final whistle without further scares.

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