Chelsea notched their first win under new manager Avram Grant, defeating Hull City 4-0 at the KC Stadium, to advance to the next round of the Carling Cup. It was a convincing and dominant win for the Blues, with a number of fringe players looking to force their way into the new coach’s plans.
Carlo Cudicini started his first match of the season between the posts, as Grant kept only four players from the team defeated by Manchester United. Belletti was recalled at right back, but the rest of the defence remained unchanged, Ben-Haim, Terry and Ashley Cole making up the back line. Shaun Wright-Phillips and youngster Scott Sinclair played wide of Sidwell and Essien in midfield, with Kalou and Pizarro the favoured strike partnership. A plus was the inclusion of England’s best left back, Wayne Bridge, on the substitute’s bench, and the demotion of Andriy Shevchenko to sit alongside him.
Hull had familiar faces in the shape of Henrik Pedersen and Jay-Jay Okocha, Bolton old boys, but they proved not to be of great threat as the night wore on.
Chelsea started brightly on a chilly night, a Kalou volley saved by Myhill in the hull goal after a Wright-Phillips corner in the third minute. The Blues launched yet more attacks at the Hull goal, with Wright-Phillips prominent on the right and Essien showing his power through the middle. The clever link up play of Pizarro was a feature all night, as he bids for a regular first team place.
The opening goal was Scott Sinclair’s first ever in the Chelsea first team. Wright-Phillips crossed having received the ball from a partially cleared Chelsea corner, and drove the ball across the penalty area, where Sinclair kept his head down and tucked the ball into the bottom right hand corner. The finish was of undoubted quality, and the young attacker made it look easy as he calmly dispatched the cross into the back of the net. Potentially, this is the start of something big for Scott Sinclair.
Within three minutes of the second half commencing, Chelsea had doubled their lead. A Kalou burst through the middle led to Pizarro getting free near the byline. The Peruvian stood up a left footed cross perfectly for Kalou to head in from almost under the crossbar, although the defender Delaney may have got the final touch.
In the 52nd minute, Chelsea made it 3-0 as the floodgates threatened to open. Some neat build up work in and around the penalty area from Claudio Pizarro and Scott Sinclair dragged defenders out of position and left Steve Sidwell in acres of space. Once the ball was rolled back to him by Pizarro, he let fly with a scorching 25 yard strike with the outside of his right boot that flew past Myhill in the Hull goal. It was a first strike in Chelsea blue for our summer signing from Reading.
In the 63rd minute, Wayne Bridge returned to action after his pre-season injury, replacing Ashley Cole. Ten minutes later, Claude Makelélé replaced Essien for Chelsea; Nicky Featherstone replaced Henrik Pedersen for Hull.
Bridge played a vital role in Chelsea’s fourth and final goal in the 81st minute. A clever dinked ball from Joe Cole released Bridge down the left, before he touched it on to the overlapping England winger. Cole looked up and picked out Kalou drifting off his marker, before the Ivorian smashed a convincing left footed strike past Myhill. Chelsea wound down the clock and when full time was blown, had comprehensively swept aside the men in orange and black.
Avram Grant has notched his first win as Chelsea manager, and the performances of Sidwell, Kalou, Belletti and Sinclair will provide him with a welcome selection headache heading into the Fulham match. This match provided a good outing to blow the cobwebs away and stick a few in the back of the net, and the Chelsea boys responded with a strong performance. This is just the first step to getting the season back on track.
Hull City(4-3-2-1): Myhill, Ricketts, Turner, Brown, Delaney, Ashbee (c), Livermore, Pedersen (Featherstone 73), Okocha, Elliott (Garcia 52), McPhee.
Chelsea (4-4-2): Cudicini; Belletti, Ben-Haim, Terry (c), A Cole (Bridge 63); Wright-Phillips (J Cole 49), Sidwell, Essien (Makelélé 73); Sinclair, Kalou, Pizarro.
Referee Chris Foy