Chelsea 2 Burnley 3 – MATCH HIGHLIGHTS: Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas see red as a Sam Vokes double and Stephen Ward belter stuns champs
CHELSEA’S title defence got off to the worst possible start with a controversial 3-2 defeat at home to Burnley.
A Sam Vokes double either side of stunner from Stephen Ward did the damage as the champions played most the game with 10 men as Gary Cahill was sensationally sent off followed by a late dismissal of Cesc Fabregas.
Cahill lunged into the tackle leaving the Belgian in a heap. - and to the amazement of the home crowd refer Craig Pawson brandished the red card and sent Cahill for an early shower
That’s a three-match ban for the England defender who misses next weeks crunch visit to Wembley to face Spurs.
The complexion of the game changed from that moment and the visitors took control and went ahead when Sam Vokes forced the ball home from a Matt Lawton cross.
Sean Dyche watched his sit act softer going up but saw his side double their lead when the champions were caught napping from a free worked to Ward by the impressive Jack Cork.
Ward cut in from the left to unleash a stunning left foot drive that gave Thibaut Courtois no chance.
All Antonio Conte could do was standby and watch his team fall apart and Vokes got his second and his sides third to end the game as a contest just before the interval.
The Welsh international was given the freedom of West London to head home from a free kick.
Alvaro Morata was introduced on the hour for his home debut and Burnley keeper Tom Heston was forced to make his first meaningful save from a Marcos Alonso free kick.
With a sense of injustice, the home fans were putting referee Pawson under huge pressure every time a Chelsea player wears fouled.
Debutant Antonio Rudiger did himself in favours throwing himself into a clearance and trying to earn a penalty - that could be one for the panel who will or monitor player simulation.
Despite being amen down Chelsea were this better side in the second period and deserved their first goals of the season.
Morata gave the champions a lifeline on 68 minutes when he bagged his first goal for the the Blues heading home after a fabulous cross from Willian.
Conte's side thought they were right back in it when sub Andreas Christensen's effort was ruled out for offside when Morata was deemed have got the final touch.
A hugely disappointing start to the season for the champions, which was made worse by Fabregas’ late dismissal thanks to a second yellow, and the names of the Blues subs bench will see Conte banging on Roman Abramovich's door for reinforcements before the window shuts.
And even David Luiz's late strike to make it 3-2 could not paper over the cracks.
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- Chelsea fans could have been confused when gazing upon Jeremie Boga's name on the team-sheet. The youngster has been at the club for nine years, but this afternoon was his first-ever start for the Blues.
- Gary Cahill was hoping to kick off his reign as new club captain in fine fashion - and to celebrate his Premier League bow as skipper he was made the cover star of the matchday programme.
- But it was a miserable afternoon for the England defender as he received his marching orders for lunging through Steven Defour with just 13 minutes on the clock to leave the Bridge stunned.
- Stunningly, that brought to an end an incredible record. The Blues had gone 40 successive top-flight matches without a red card prior to today.
- And amazingly, he was not the only Chelsea defender to receive an early red card. Tomas Kalas, on-loan at Fulham, was dismissed in their clash with Reading after just 39 SECONDS!
- Cahill was not the only one to suffer. Poor Boga's big moment would only last for 18 minutes as Antonio Conte replaced him with centre-half Andreas Christensen.
- Burnley are working hard to try and replace Andre Gray upfront, but the answer may already lie at the club. Vokes' two goals meant he had now bagged seven in his six Premier League games after finding the net five times in his previous 58.
- It was absolute chaos in the Chelsea defence during the first half and even Burnley full-back Stephen Ward got in on the act. He had only scored twice in 70 appearances before today, but he finished like a veteran striker as he lashed in the second from an angle into the far corner of the net.
- At least the Stamford Bridge faithful could console themselves with the fact they witnessed history. Their side are the first reigning champions to concede three goals in their opening game of the season.
- And it was the first time since the Premier League's inception that they had found themselves three behind at half time in a home game.
- But at least there was one bonus. £65million new boy Alvaro Morata netted on his debut, which will do his confidence the world of good despite the surprise setback.
WHAT THEY SAID
Chelsea boss Antonio Conte: "The sending off of Cahill was a key moment, because to play the rest of the game with 10 and then nine men is not easy. I don't want to comment on the referee, absolutely not.
"We tried until the end to reach a good result against Burnley - it was a pity because our fight in the second half was very good. But in our first half, we kept losing our heads. After the red card we lost our heads, conceded three goals and then it's very difficult to change the final result.
Burnley manager Sean Dyche: "Winning away from home on the first day quietens down some stories - we're written off at the start of every season. It kills off a few things early doors and it allows the players that space for growth.
"Chelsea have players of such calibre and to see the game through is so pleasing."
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