Kenedy starred and scored his first goal for Chelsea as the League Cup champions began the defence of their title with a 4-1 defeat of Walsall on Wednesday.
Diego Costa’s clash with Laurent Koscielny in Saturday’s ill-tempered Premier League defeat of Arsenal saw the striker charged with violent conduct on Monday, but Jose Mourinho’s men were the purveyors of professionalism at Walsall and 19-year-old Kenedy made a significant impression.
It took Chelsea just 10 minutes to make the most of their early dominance – Ramires nodding in a fine cross from Kenedy, who tested the hosts’ defence on a regular basis.
Loic Remy gave Chelsea some breathing space with a powerful finish with 41 minutes on the clock, but Walsall – whose early nerves had since subsided – made things interesting with James O’Connor’s effort on the stroke of half time.
The two-goal cushion was restored six minutes into the second period, however, as Kenedy got the reward his lively performance deserved, drilling into the net from 12 yards.
The former Fluminense winger’s goal effectively sealed a comfortable victory, with Chelsea more than willing to absorb pressure towards the end, before Pedro added another from distance in stoppage time to wrap things up.
Keen to build on the momentum provided by two wins in the last week, Chelsea’s start showed no evidence of taking their lower-league opposition lightly.
The visitors’ early ventures into the attacking third saw Kenedy thrive, though he was denied a first goal for the club in the third minute by a crucial O’Connor block.
Kenedy proved even more effective seven minutes later as Chelsea broke the deadlock.
The teenager pounced on a botched clearance and picked out the run of Ramires with a pinpoint cross, allowing the midfielder to head home.
Radamel Falcao should have doubled their advantage shortly after, but again O’Connor was there to clear in the six-yard box after Neil Etheridge had been beaten.
But the away side finally got their second four minutes before the break – Remy producing an emphatic finish after Ramires’ incisive pass.
Walsall went into the interval buoyant, however, as O’Connor pulled one back with a scuffed finish from close range after Asmir Begovic could only parry a long-range free-kick from former Chelsea man Milan Lalkovic.
Chelsea started the second half full of intent, though, swiftly adding a third in the 52nd minute through the impressive Kenedy, who latched on to Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s exquisite first-time pass and rifled into the net.
Walsall enjoyed some late pressure, delighting their supporters with a fine show of character, but Chelsea’s depth and array of talent told at the end, as substitute Pedro slammed home from distance right at the end to round things off.
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