Maurizio Sarri admitted Chelsea rode their luck against Manchester City but felt his decision not to play with an out and out striker ultimately paid off.
Eden Hazard led Chelsea’s attack and was involved in both goals as the Blues beat the champions 2-0 despite coming under sustained pressure for large periods of the match.
City dominated before N’Golo Kante scored just before half-time at Stamford Bridge after collecting Hazard’s pass.
And David Luiz headed home Hazard’s 78th-minute corner to seal a stunning win for Sarri’s side.
“We had Eden for the first time in that position and I think for the first 20, 25 minutes it didn’t work very well in the defensive movement in the opponents’ half,” said Sarri.
“He had some problems in the beginning of the match but he really played well in the second half.
“Fortunately we defended very well and then we started to press a little bit better and after the first goal the match changed.
“I think that at the end we deserved to win. We are really very happy with the win because we know it is not easy to win against Manchester City.
“We won today but I think we have to say we were a bit lucky in the first 25 minutes, because they could have scored. We were a little bit lucky in the first half and very good in the second.
“Now we need to play with this level of determination, with the right aggression, in the other matches.”
Sarri named Olivier Giroud among his substitutes and opted to leave Alvaro Morata out of the matchday squad altogether.
He explained: “The reason was clear. We played with Hazard as a striker and so if we had to change something there was Giroud.
“I think that it was useless to have two strikers on the bench and I prefer to have more midfielders.”
Kante’s goal came after some below-par displays from the Frenchman – and some criticism of Sarri for deploying him in a more attacking role.
Sarri has recently been critical of Kante, ordering him to stay closer to Jorginho in Chelsea’s midfield, and against City he felt those instructions were carried out.
Sarri said: “Today Kante played close to Jorginho more than in the other matches.
“I think that he defended very well. He was in the box for the first goal but I think today he played in the right position, close to Jorginho.”