Sarri starts EPL life with Chelsea beating Huddersfield 3-0
HUDDERSFIELD, England (AP) — Maurizio Sarri enjoyed a winning start to life as a manager in the English Premier League as Chelsea outclassed Huddersfield 3-0 on Saturday.
Former Napoli coach Sarri replaced Antonio Conte in a restless summer for the London club but any fears of an opening-day upset disappeared with goals from France international N’Golo Kante, summer signing Jorginho and Pedro.
World Cup winner Kante’s untidy 34th-minute volley and Jorginho’s audacious penalty on the stroke of halftime put Chelsea in control before Pedro wrapped up the points in the closing stages.
Kepa Arrizabalaga, the world’s most expensive goalkeeper, barely had a save to make on his Blues debut, while Jorginho slotted seamlessly into a well-balanced midfield, which refused to be out-hussled by David Wagner’s Terriers.
Chelsea announced the signing on Wednesday after paying Kepa’s 80-million-euro (around $93 million) buyout clause at Athletic Bilbao — the biggest fee ever for a goalkeeper.
Kepa had little to do for the opening 20 minutes as Chelsea hogged the ball, but made a hash of an early touch when he passed straight to Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooy.
Alex Pritchard fired Huddersfield’s first effort straight at Kepa soon after, which the Spaniard comfortably dealt with.
At the other end, Huddersfield’s debutant goalkeeper Ben Hamer, signed on a free transfer from Leicester, made a nervous start and twice put the home side under pressure with misplaced passes from his penalty area.
Huddersfield enjoyed more possession toward the half-hour mark as Steve Mounie’s rising effort cleared the crossbar and a series of crosses from Huddersfield left-back Chris Lowe tested Chelsea’s defense.
But Chelsea took the lead in the 34th. Willian’s delivery from the left evaded Huddersfield’s cover and Kante’s mistimed volley span into the ground and inside the far post.
Huddersfield’s response was swift, with Mounie heading Mooy’s 36th-minute corner against the inside of the far post.
But the Terriers were dealt a hammer blow in the 44th when referee Chris Kavanagh awarded the visitors a penalty.
For the third goal, Hazard sliced through Huddersfield’s defense down the middle before setting up Pedro, who drove home a low angled shot into the bottom corner.