Chelsea won their first competitive match under coach Mauricio Pochettino with a 3-0 home victory over Premier League new boys Luton Town on Friday thanks to two goals by Raheem Sterling and Nicolas Jackson’s first strike for the Londoners.
Sterling received the ball from wing back Malo Gusto, cut in from the right and weaved his way through Luton’s defence before shooting low into the far corner in the 17th minute for one of his best goals in a Chelsea shirt.
The duo combined again in the 68th when Gusto ran onto a pass from British record transfer signing Moises Caicedo, looking composed on his first start for Chelsea, and the Frenchman crossed for a simple finish by Sterling.
Seven minutes later, the England winger turned provider as he crossed for Jackson and the Senegal striker stretched out a boot to score his first Chelsea goal since signing from Villarreal in June.
It was the big-spending Blues’ first win of the season after an opening day 1-1 draw against Liverpool and last Sunday’s 3-1 defeat at West Ham United and only their second win in 15 Premier League games including last season’s dreadful run.
Luton, playing just their second top-division game in 31 years – after opening with a 4-1 defeat at Brighton & Hove Albion – and with a side assembled largely from players out of the lower divisions, spurned a chance to level on the hour.
Ryan Giles had the goal at his mercy but Gusto half-blocked his shot and keeper Robert Sanchez reached for the looping ball.
The home fans responded enthusiastically as Chelsea recorded their first home league win since March 4 and Pochettino lived up to his promise to get the Blues playing attractive football after the struggles of last season under Thomas Tuchel and Graham Potter, both of whom were fired.
Sterling has flourished under the Argentine having struggled to find consistent form for much of the time since his move from Manchester City in July last year.
“I had a conversation with the gaffer earlier last week and we’ve gone through the role and I know exactly what he needs from me and it’s as simple as that,” Sterling said.
“I came in a difficult period, that’s all finished,” he added. “I think the most important thing, I’ve had a look at myself and I’m a person who always tries to analyse what I’ve been doing, what I’ve done wrong, what I can change.”
In a less spectacular way, Friday’s win was also significant for the way Caicedo slotted into the anchor role in Chelsea’s midfield, allowing Enzo Fernandez and Conor Gallagher to venture further forward and stretch Luton who were outclassed.
Real Madrid down Celta
Real Madrid’s new signing Jude Bellingham scored in the second half to earn his side a third straight win as they beat Celta Vigo 1-0 in LaLiga on Friday to maintain a perfect start.
The 20-year-old once again led the Spanish giants’ attack, scoring for the fourth time in his first three league games following Rodrygo’s missed penalty earlier in the second half.
Real were dealt an early blow as Brazilian forward Vinicius Jr was forced off with a leg problem after 15 minutes, a notable loss for Carlo Ancelotti’s side that comes on top of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and defender Eder Militao’s injuries.
Celta were also forced into a substitution due to Franco Cervi’s injury shortly before halftime.
The visitors had already come under fire in the opening seconds as Celta thought they had taken the lead only for VAR to rule out Jorgen Larsen’s effort for a foul on goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, making his debut following his loan from Chelsea.
“Kepa has played well, a clean sheet is a good sign,” said Ancelotti. “He deserved to play, I have said in these games that the goal is well covered, both with Kepa and (Andriy) Lunin.”
Rodrygo then had a golden chance to earn Real the lead in the 68th minute with a penalty after keeper Ivan Villar tripped him in the box. However, Villar redeemed himself as he dived to his right to keep out the Brazilian forward’s spot kick.
“I told (Real midfielder Fede) Valverde that Luka (Modric) had to take the penalty, I don’t know what happened between them that they chose Rodrygo,” Ancelotti said. “I am a bit upset that Luka didn’t take the penalty.”
However, England midfielder Bellingham put La Liga leaders Real in front 10 minutes from time with a header from Joselu’s touch off a corner to maintain his impressive start.
“Bellingham is doing very well, he keeps scoring. He’s doing it because he’s moving very well without the ball” Ancelotti said. “He’s intelligent, he arrives at the right moment.”
After three away matches, high-flying Real will play their first home game next Saturday against Getafe as renovations at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium are completed.
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