Chelsea extended their streak of 14 years without an opening day loss with an assured 2-0 against Wigan.
The two quickest goals of the Premier League campaign thus far helped Chelsea on their way to snatching all three points, with Hazard involved in both Ivanovic’s strike and Lampard’s penalty, both within the first seven minutes.
Chelsea have beaten Wigan 11 times out of 14 Premier League meetings, and they were on course to add to that with a scintillating start. Debutant Hazard was given a free-role as Juan Mata covered the right-wing with Ramires ill, and it was he who got the champions of Europe up and running with a smart turn in the centre circle.
The £32 million man then showed the touch to lay on a great ball to Branislav Ivanovic, and the Serbian, who did not need to serve a ban after his red card in the Community Shield, rifled home in Al Habsi’s near post, before Wigan even woke up.
The style was truly turned on by a man with exceptional talent, and the 21 year old Belgian continued to demonstrate the skills that attracted Europe’s finest over the summer, weaving in and out of defenders, before drawing a rash challenge from another debutant in Wigan’s Ramis.
Mike Jones has no hesistation to award the spot kick, and Lampard drilled low underneath the Oman goalkeeper.
But any hopes for a 6-0 or 8-0 scoreline as we have seen before between these sides was not to come. Indeed, it turned into a very even contest, with the Wigan players finding their rhythm in Roberto Martinez’s innovative 3-4-3 formation.
With a comfortable two-goal cushion, Chelsea could slowly keep possession and play a passing game, but the relaxed approach turned lazy, and Victor Moses powerfully struck from the right, only to find Cech fully awake in the Wigan rain.
Former Chelsea player should have made his former side pay just before half-time, but Wigan’s number 9 failed to halve his side’s deficit, hesitating and having one extra touch, allowing Cech to smother.
With Drogba gone, this season may well be the defining season of Fernando Torres as a player, and though he looked anonymous in the first half, he nearly made it 3-0 to Chelsea, but his poke home could not crawl past the line before Ramis intervened.
Another new signing could them showcase his talent in front of a 19,738-strong crowd, with the Brazilian Oscar, who had a good Olympic campaign, coming on for Eden Hazard, who was given the Man Of The Match accolade.
And he showed his pace and skill when he ran onto a Torres flick, but his shot from over 18 yards narrowly missed the far post.
Mata’s fitness was still not 100% having had a tough summer, and he was replaced with eight minutes left by Raul Meireles, in a move to see off Wigan.
It would have been typical of Chelsea to concede late on, especially after such a shaky pre-season, but the Blues held on for a morale-boosting victory.