Having watched his side turn the table on Newcastle from last season’s home game – his only Stamford Bridge defeat so far – Roberto Di Matteo spread praise equally between his attacking and his defensive players.
May’s 2-0 defeat against the Tynesiders seems even further way now following the third victory of the new league campaign. Fernando Torres won a penalty which was converted by Eden Hazard in the absence of Frank Lampard for his first Chelsea goal. Then Hazard returned the compliment for Torres to net with a fine shot.
Unlike against Reading midweek, once Chelsea got ahead there was no slipping up at the back so a comfortable victory was ensured.
On the collective contribution
‘People will talk about the goalscorers but I was very pleased with our performance considering it was our third game in six days and we were playing against probably our toughest opposition,’ said Di Matteo. ‘In the first half we saw some good football again and we tailed off a little bit in the second half but probably because it was our third game in six days.’
On that man Hazard again
‘Hazard has quite a lot of assists and it was good for him to get his first goal, and the second goal from Torres was terrific play by us.
‘But it is not just Torres linking with Hazard. He has a very good link up and understanding with Mata and the other midfield players, and the whole team. Thanks to his team members he has been able to slide into our team and play very comfortably with the others.
‘We watched him a lot last season but it is a different league so you are never sure how quick he can adapt, but he seems to have found his feet very quickly and he is a wonderful player for us.’
On Torres’s bright start to the season
‘Torres was very important for us last season, maybe not scoring as much but providing and working hard for the team. He is a great team player as well. I know we ask strikers to score but not only that.’
On Chelsea’s defensive play and fielding a third centre-back pairing in three games
‘We controlled the Newcastle threats very well and we didn’t concede much to them because if you give a little bit of time and space to Ba, Cisse, Ben Arfa or Cabaye they can hurt you. Ryan Bertrand and Ashley Cole on the left-hand side did a wonderful job in keeping that side quiet and two clean sheets in the first three games, we can be happy with that.
‘We have three internationals we are using in the central defence position and we will need all three to be that strong, so it is great that the partnerships are working whichever two are playing. For us to be successful it is what we need. And we are playing Ivanovic on the right who is another who can centre-back.’
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew somewhat understandably highlighted the fact several of his team played in Greece on Thursday night but also had complements for the victors.
‘First half I thought we lacked a bit of spark but Chelsea were good. We had a go second half and didn’t shut up shop.
‘Hazard is a difficult player because he travels with the ball and buys time and when you have that, you can time your runs off him. He has that kind of nonchalance that marks him out as a great player. He made a difference to Chelsea from last year.
‘They are still an organised team and defend well. A lot of our attacks today would have opened up a lot of teams.’