Thu | Sep 21, 2017

Champions Chelsea clipped 3-2 by Burnley

Published:Sunday | August 13, 2017 | 8:00 AM
Watford's Nordin Amrabat (left) and Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum battle for the ball during the English Premier League match at Vicarage Road, Watford, England, yesterday.
Everton's Wayne Rooney (left) and Stoke City's Kurt Zouma in action during the English Premier League football match at Goodison Park, Liverpool, England yesterday.
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LONDON (AP):

Chelsea had two players sent off and lost to Burnley 3-2 in the first match of its English Premier League title defence yesterday, intensifying the concerns surrounding the champions after their frustrating off season 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 half-time. 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 ($75 million).

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 off season. 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 reorganised following Cahill's sending off.

Chelsea, who won 17 of their 19 home games last season, became the second straight team to begin their league title defence with a loss, after Leicester last season.

 

TOUGH SECOND MATCH

 

Fabregas and Cahill will be suspended for Chelsea's tough second match of the season, away to Tottenham at Wembley Stadium next weekend.

Burnley were expected to struggle this season after losing arguably their best two players in the off season, defender Michael Keane and striker Andre Gray.

"A lot was made of our away form last season," Vokes said. "So that result is huge."

Meanwhile at Goodison Park, 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 4,869 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.

 

LIVERPOOL HELD TO A DRAW

 

Liverpool conceded in second-half injury time to draw 3-3 at Watford. Scoring goals wasn't a problem for Liverpool at Vicarage Road despite the absence of unsettled playmaker Philippe Coutinho, but the visitors couldn't keep them out either, showing that lessons haven't been learnt from last season.

Having already conceded two soft goals in the first half, Liverpool failed to deal with a near-post corner in the fourth minute of injury time. Richarlison fired in a shot from an acute angle that goalkeeper Simon Mignolet parried on to the crossbar, and Miguel Britos headed the loose ball over the line from less than a metre out.

Liverpool conceded 27 goals from set pieces last season, and two of Watford's goals came from corners. The other Watford goal started from an attacking throw-in.

It looked like Mo Salah was going to be the match-winner for Liverpool on his competitive debut, with the club's record signing for an initial €42 million ($46.8 million) bundling in a close-range finish to give the visitors the lead for the first time in the 57th. Two minutes earlier, Salah earned a penalty that was dispatched by Roberto Firmino.

Results: Watford 3 Liverpool 3; Chelsea 2 Burnley 3; Crystal Palace 0 Huddersfield 3; Everton 1 Stoke City 0; Southampton 0 Swansea 0; West Brom 1 Bournemouth 0; Brighton 0 Manchester City 2.