Nine-man Chelsea lose 3-2 to Burnley to open Premier League title defence
Chelsea had two players sent off and lost to Burnley 3-2 in the first match of its English Premier League title defence on Saturday (Sunday NZ Time), intensifying the concerns surrounding the champions after their frustrating offseason in the transfer market.
Captain Gary Cahill was shown a straight red card for a studs-first lunge in the 13th minute, then the champions conceded three goals in a 20-minute period before halftime.
Striker Sam Vokes scored two of them by converting crosses, sandwiching a stunning volley by left back Stephen Ward.
Chelsea improved after halftime. Alvaro Morata, on as a second-half substitute, reduced the deficit in his first league start since a club-record move from Real Madrid for £58 million (NZ$103 million).
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Any hopes of an unlikely comeback looked to have disappeared when midfielder Cesc Fabregas was red-carded in the 81st after receiving his second booking. However, David Luiz ensured a tense finish when he volleyed home in the 88th after being teed up by the influential Morata.
The result will not improve the mood of Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, who hasn't hidden his frustration at failing to significantly bolster his squad in the offseason. With Eden Hazard, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Pedro Rodriguez injured and Victor Moses suspended, Chelsea had a threadbare match-day 18.
Jeremie Boga, a 20-year-old French forward, was even given a debut. It lasted only 18 minutes, when he was sacrificed as Conte reorganized following Cahill's sending off.
Chelsea, which won 17 of its 19 home games last season, became the second straight team to begin its league title defence with a loss, after Leicester last season.
Fabregas and Cahill will be suspended for Chelsea's tough second match of the season, away to Tottenham at Wembley Stadium next weekend.
Burnley was expected to struggle this season after losing arguably its best two players in the offseason, defender Michael Keane and striker Andre Gray.
"A lot was made of our away form last season," Vokes said. "So that result is huge."
HUDDERSFIELD SHOCK PALACE
Striker Steve Mounie scored twice as promoted Huddersfield stunned Crystal Palace with a 3-0 victory at Selhurst Park, spoiling Frank de Boer's debut as a Premier League coach on Saturday (Sunday NZT).
Huddersfield took the lead after 23 minutes when Aaron Mooy's corner was turned goalwards by Chris Schindler's glancing header and the ball went in off Palace defender Joel Ward in a goalmouth melee.
The visitors, who outmuscled Palace in midfield in the opening 45 minutes, went two up three minutes later, their new signing Mounie heading Mooy's cross emphatically past Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey.
Mounie, who joined the promoted side from France's Montpellier in July, scored his second goal 12 minutes from time in a counter-attack after being set up by substitute Collin Quaner.
Forwards Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke both had chances to put Palace, who staved off relegation last season, back in the game in the dying minutes of the first half, while Huddersfield goalkeeper Jonas Lossl made good saves from both in the second.
Meanwhile, Wayne Rooney marked his first Premier League game back at boyhood club Everton by scoring in a 1-0 win over Stoke.
Rooney headed home a right-wing cross in first-half injury time to score 4869 days after his last goal for Everton before joining Manchester United, where he became one of English football's most decorated players.
It was the 31-year-old striker's 199th Premier League goal.
Rooney had already played twice for Everton since his sentimental return to Goodison Park, but didn't score in either of the Europa League qualifying matches.
Egyptian defender Ahmed Hegazi scored a first-half header on his Premier League debut to give West Bromwich Albion a well-deserved 1-0 victory over Bournemouth at the Hawthorns on the opening day of their season.
Striker Jay Rodriguez, bought from Southampton during the summer for £12 million (NZ$21.3 million), was busy early on for the home side, going close twice in two first-half minutes with a header and a shot.
Hegazi, on loan from Egypt's Al Ahly, scored the only goal of the game for West Brom in the 31st minute, deftly heading Chris Brunt's inswinging ball from the right between the legs of Bournemouth keeper Asmir Begovic in the 31st minute.
Bournemouth camped on the edge of the West Brom penalty area for much of the second half but struggled to find time and space to shoot as West Brom hung on for the win.
New season, same old problems for Southampton.
By drawing 0-0 at home to Swansea in their opening match of the English Premier League season, Southampton extended its goal drought at St Mary's Stadium to 545 minutes - taking in the final six home matches of last season.
"We did everything to win the game but we couldn't," said Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrini, who replaced Claude Puel in the offseason.
Southampton had 29 shots on goal, with Manolo Gabbiadini and Dusan Tadic wasting the best of the chances.
- AP, Reuters