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The Premier League sack race

Manager Watch less than a minute ago
Read
 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jul 17, 2013

Chelsea edge past All-Stars

Jose Mourinho marked his return as Chelsea manager with a performance of potential with victory over the Singha All-Stars in Bangkok.

• Jose: Rooney or bust
• Blues confirm Rooney bid
• Marcotti: Rooney mess
• Palmer: Rooney endgame

The Thai side beat Manchester United in David Moyes' opening match in charge last Saturday, but the Blues triumphed in the Special One's first match in charge since September 2007.

Romelu Lukaku's first-half penalty was decisive as Mourinho named two teams, with five players remaining from his first spell selected in the starting XI at the Rajamangala Stadium in front of a local crowd decked out in Chelsea blue.

That was reduced to four when midfielder Frank Lampard, who was slated to start, hobbled towards the bench with a strapped right ankle. Ramires began in his place, while five players who spent last year on loan were granted an opportunity, too.

Lucas Piazon, one of the quintet, began as the central figure of the attacking trio behind Lukaku, whose ball to Andre Schurrle resulted in an acrobatic mis-hit from Ramires.

Ramires leapt to meet a Schurrle free-kick and Chelsea hit the bar following a mix-up between goalkeeper Kritsana Klanklin and Lazarus Kaimbi at the back. The Brazilian was also unable to find the target from the resulting set-piece before a rising Kevin De Bruyne drive from distance went over.

Lukaku had the first effort on target as he raced into the right side of the area, but shot low straight at Klaklin.

Chelsea had a penalty when Wallace was hauled down by Kaimbi, with Lukaku netting the spot-kick, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.

Lukaku was presented with another opportunity when De Bruyne lifted the ball over the All-Stars' defence, but the striker's finishing let him down.

A Blues side showing nine half-time changes applied more pressure immediately after the break, with Eden Hazard to the fore.

The Belgian's free-kick breached the defensive wall, but was repelled, before Thanongsak Panpipat again saved from Hazard this time at the near post.

Branislav Ivanovic was unable to stretch far enough at the far post to make strong contact with a De Bruyne free-kick and then Hazard's shot deflected and squirmed towards a wrong-footed Panpipat, who gathered under pressure from the Blues attack. The All-Stars' forays forward were infrequent and neither Petr Cech in the first half, nor Jamal Blackman in the second were tested.

The pace of the game slowed as Chelsea settled for a narrow victory, which may have been more emphatic had a player as ruthless as Rooney been on the field.

"(It was) not for me a special feeling,'' former Inter Milan and Real Madrid boss Mourinho said. "I've been too many years in football. I've always felt connected with Chelsea, even when I was not here.

"It's just good to be back, but I'm waiting for Hull City, my first match when we play for points. Defensively we were very strong. We moved the ball quite well, but we didn't create many chances. ''We are not sharp at the moment, we have a lot to improve, but it was okay - it was a good training session. I'm okay with the game and that performance.''

With Chelsea pursuing another striker in Rooney, Mourinho was asked if it was good for Lukaku, who spent last term on loan at West Brom, to find the net.

"A goal is a goal, but it's not significant,'' the Portuguese added. "A penalty is not significant. For me, it's important he worked hard. [Demba] Ba worked hard. They worked for the team and tried some movement for us. A friendly is a friendly, but for confidence it's good for a striker to score a goal.''

Lampard appeared pitch-side with a heavily strapped right ankle and will return to training after the squad travel to Kuala Lumpur.

"He was feeling discomfort on his Achilles, so we decided he wouldn't play,'' Mourinho explained. "In competition you have to risk sometimes; in pre-season, no. The worst thing that can happen is an injury while taking a risk. Frank will rest like everyone tomorrow and in two days' time he'll be back in training.''

Meanwhile, Mourinho confirmed Wallace will go out on-loan in Europe this season, as Chelsea have options at right-back, with Branislav Ivanovic and Cesar Azpilicueta, and the Brazilian is unlikely to get a work permit.

Mourinho also confirmed that those involved in the Confederations Cup - Azpilicueta, Juan Mata, Fernando Torres, John Obi Mikel, David Luiz and Oscar - will meet up with the squad for the first time in London on July 28 and will miss the Asia tour, which continues in Malaysia and Jakarta, Indonesia.

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