Romelu Lukaku followed Cristiano Ronaldo’s suit by scoring twice on his second home debut, as he helped Chelsea to a 3-0 win over Aston Villa.
Manchester United forward Ronaldo had earlier on Saturday capped his return to Old Trafford by netting a brace to help down Newcastle. Lukaku has already scored for the Blues since re-signing for Inter Milan for £97.5million, but that came at Arsenal. As such, he wanted to make an impression at Stamford Bridge.
It only took him 15 minutes to do so, easing past Axel Tuanzebe to finish. Villa, though, dominated thereafter, until Kovacic made it 2-0 in the second half. Lukaku then added his second deep into stoppage time.
The first 10 minutes set the tone for a busy first half, both sides having chances. Following a string of early Chelsea corners, Villa defender Ezri Konza almost turned another into his own net.
But it was Lukaku who struck the crucial first blow after 15 minutes. Mateo Kovacic was pivotal, advancing with the ball and arcing a pass round Tuanzebe.
Lukaku dummied inside the Manchester United loanee and fired home.
From there, though, it was all Villa until the half-time whistle. Indeed, they should have been at least on level terms if it were not for Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy.
The Senegal international denied Ollie Watkins’ fierce low shot to his right, before a fantastic double save against Tyrone Mings and Konza.
Further up the pitch, Chelsea debutant Saul Niguez had a mixed first 45 minutes. While he intercepted on one occasion, he gave the ball away sloppily a number of times and let Villa in.
Still, on 32 minutes, he had played the second-most number of passes for Chelsea and had the most duels. Mendy then made another save to deny Jacob Ramsey, who was impressive for the visitors.
Kovacic, Lukaku ease Chelsea concerns
Saul came off at half time and was replaced by Italy’s Euro 2020 star Jorginho.
Despite Villa impressing in the first half, Chelsea made sure to scupper any early Villa plans to finally find an equaliser within three minutes.
Indeed, it was Kovacic who got the goal, pouncing on a poor back pass from Mings to fire first time off the post and in.
Chelsea’s task from here was to control the game, but they decided to try and add more gloss to the scoreline.
Marcos Alonso was dangerous down the left, while Kovacic curled narrowly wide from the left edge of the box.
For Villa, Bertrand Traore replaced Danny Ings. Indeed, Watkins was the striker showing their biggest threat and he fired over after another well-worked move. Mendy then made another good stop from Konza’s headed corner.
In the dying moments of the game, Lukaku blasted the ball into the top left corner to make it 3-0.
Chelsea’s result kept their unbeaten record this season intact, but they inflicted Villa’s second defeat in four games.