Lukaku gives Mourinho winning return
Published 17/07/2013 | 17:22
Jose Mourinho marked his return as Chelsea manager with a performance of potential to excite Wayne Rooney with a 1-0 victory over the Singha All-Stars in Bangkok.
The Thai side beat a Manchester United side minus Rooney in David Moyes' opening match in charge last Saturday, but - after confirming before kick-off a bid had been lodged for the England striker, but that none of their players were offered in exchange - the Blues triumphed in the Special One's first match in charge since September 2007.
Romelu Lukaku's first-half penalty was decisive but Rooney would have relished the opportunities created, particularly if he can be lured to London from Old Trafford.
Despite the will of Chelsea, Mourinho and Rooney, that is by no means a formality.
Prior to kick-off the Blues angrily dismissed suggestions Spain playmaker Juan Mata or Brazil defender David Luiz would be used as a make-weight in any potential deal, pointing accusingly at United for the claim.
Mata and Luiz are two of six players not on the tour after being granted a break following the Confederations Cup and the unusual step taken by Chelsea in commenting on a potential transfer may have been designed to reassure the duo, who are still to meet Mourinho in person.
The Portuguese has insisted he has no intention of selling any players and he took the opportunity in Bangkok to assess his squad.
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 crossbar 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.