Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho felt his team’s lifeless second-half display in the 2-0 win over Hull City was because all of his creative midfield players had featured in midweek internationals.
The Blues made a blistering start to Mourinho’s second spell in charge and could easily have been five or six goals ahead within half an hour.
But the pace dropped off after the interval as Hull grew in confidence as the home side appeared to wilt.
Chelsea remained relatively solid in defence but could not add to first-half goals from Oscar and Frank Lampard.
Mourinho admitted that the trio of Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Oscar looked particularly tired as the match progressed, but he was thrilled with their first-half contribution.
“I am very happy with that quality and that dynamic and creativity,” he said.
“I played so many times here and won so many matches here, but we did not have so many periods of such a fantastic quality like we had.
“When I saw the second half going in another direction at the beginning I was a bit frustrated because I want more. But after five to 10 minutes I was feeling that we didn’t because we couldn’t.
“We could not play that way for 90 minutes. In the second half we had no energy and no mental ability to play that way.
“The three boys behind Fernando Torres were fantastic but in the second half they disappeared. They all played national team matches.
“Kevin played 85 minutes against France, Oscar played 80 minutes against Switzerland and Eden played 70 minutes against France.
“When the creativity disappeared we lost danger in our game. I tried to make a couple of changes but at that time the game was already dead and we sat back and our defensive block was very comfortable.
“The second half was not comparable, but the first was fantastic.”