‘IS THIS really what I’ve come here for?’ was the look on Gonzalo Higuain’s face just one minute into his first Premier League game at Stamford Bridge.
He had just been crunched by a firm – albeit fair – tackle on the halfway line.
Gonzalo Higuain scored twice at Chelsea beat Huddersfield 5-0[/caption]
And as he gingerly got to his feet, he shot a look towards the tunnel – a look we’ve seen across Alvaro Morata’s face many a time over the last 18 months.
One half expected Higuain to head across to the dugout, take his phone out and book himself on the next flight back to Italy.
Then he seemed to tell himself this is just how it is going to be, remembering what he had said for today’s programme.
He admitted: “I can see there is a change from the Italian league because here, the defenders go into you harder, especially when you receive the ball to feet.”
Higauin struck early on in his second appearance since arriving from AC Milan[/caption]
Yep, this is England, pal – better get used to it. And fair play to him, that’s what he did.
Ten minutes later, he latched on to a ball over the top, trying to find an inch of space to twizzle and shoot goalwards. He did that from then on, fending off the defender in his back to great effect.
Some inside Stamford Bridge thought he had his first goal for his new club but his volley on the turn was deflected just past Jonas Lossl’s left-hand post by a fine Tommy Smith challenge.
He was in the mood, though, and would not be denied.
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Sixteen minutes it took. And when it came, what an emphatic finish it was.
N’Golo Kante was given too much space on the edge of the area and slipped a neat ball through with the outside of the boot, bamboozling the Huddersfield defence.
Higuain beat the offside trap and slammed his finish past Lossl from the corner of the six-yard box.
This meant a lot to Higuain, who had just one goal in 14 appearances in a run stretching back to the end of October.
Higuain helped Chelsea recover from the humiliating midweek defeat to Bournemouth[/caption]
And it meant a lot to Maurizio Sarri – after all he was the gaffer’s signing and boy does he need him to come good.
Five minutes later it was almost two for the Argentine. David Luiz had the vision and execution to pick out Marcos Alonso who pulled it back into the box for Higuain but his shot flashed just past the near post.
While Eden Hazard was running the show on the left wing, Higuain didn’t half play a bad supporting role in the unfolding drama.
In a parallel universe, these two would be lining up together for Real Madrid against Alaves tomorrow night and maybe in El Clasico on Wednesday.
But as it is, they’re here. At Stamford Bridge. Make the most of it Chelsea fans. Hazard was sublime for 77 minutes, driving at the Huddersfield defence, constantly making them worried and panicked.
And he took his goals as you would expect him to: with confidence and swagger. The first a penalty. Then in the second half he rounded Lossl and stroked home into the empty net. Vintage Hazard.
But not wanting to be outdone, Higuain grabbed his second and in some style.
He found himself, unchallenged and unmarked, five yards outside the box and when the ball was laid back to him, the on-loan Juventus man curled a fine effort into the top corner beyond the stretching, diving, helpless Lossl.
Sarri will hope Higuain is the man to fire Blues into the Champions League qualification[/caption]
There was a genuine roar – not dissimilar to the one he got used to at Napoli a few years back – from the crowd.
Stunned. Amazed. Delighted. All rolled into one.
That was the feeling of the Chelsea crowd and that was the feeling of the Chelsea No9 as he headed down the tunnel at full-time, mobbed by the backroom staff.
‘So this is what I came for,’ he must have thought.