EPL: Return of the king

Chelsea football manager Jose Mourinho gestures to his players during an exhibition match.

The restoration is complete.

The King has claimed back his throne.

For the first time since the short-lived Carlo Ancelotti era, Chelsea have their swagger back.

On his return to the Premier League, Jose Mourinho (above) presided over a comfortable victory, though he will know that this should have been a rout.

For 25 minutes, it seemed that Hull City were sacrifices at a celebratory feast held to welcome back the self-appointed Special One.

The Blues should have taken the lead after just five minutes.

Hull goalkeeper Allan McGregor bafflingly elected to sucker punch Fernando Torres in the side of the head to give away a penalty, but he fulfilled the dreams of millions of Liverpool fans in the process.

Fortunately, McGregor managed to save Frank Lampard's spot-kick.

Parity lasted just eight minutes more. Kevin de Bruyne, preferred to Juan Mata, slipped a delicious ball through to Oscar, and the Brazilian slid the ball home.

Midway through the first half, Lampard atoned for his miss, thundering a free-kick into the top corner from 30 metres.

Hull City's decision to rebrand themselves as the Hull City Tigers was never a sensible idea, but as the onslaught gathered pace, it sounded ever more ridiculous.

It would have been far more appropriate to rebrand them as the Hull City Kittens.

They were torn to pieces at Stamford Bridge, victims of a combination of Chelsea's invention and their own hapless incompetence.

Two very nearly became three when the Premier League's Goal Decision System was given a runout on the stroke of half-time.

Branislav Ivanovic smashed a header in on goal from Lampard's corner and McGregor instinctively tore it out of the goalmouth.

GDS said no, but not by much. But when the Blues eased up in a pedestrian second half, Hull began to find their feet.

The introduction of Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore gave the midfield a stability and a source of creativity that it had lacked throughout.

In the 63rd minute, Hull put their first shot on target, drawing a save from Petr Cech.

In the 73rd minute, Curtis Davies very nearly scored.

Steve Bruce, in the opposing dug-out, leapt into the air in excitement, only to crash back to earth in despair.

Mourinho responded by throwing Romelu Lukaku on for the conscientious, but unspectacular Fernando Torres, giving Hull, if nothing else, something to think about.

It was enough.

They held on to secure the three points.

Given Hull's obvious shortcomings and the less-than-convincing close to the game, it can hardly be said that this was a performance to rattle the glass in the windows of the powerful houses of Manchester.

But this may be only the start.

The mood around the club has changed. They have their special one back.

They believe again.

Mourinho has returned.

npsports@sph.com.sg


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