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  • By Paul Lagan

Nine-man Blues falter on opening day

Champions Chelsea were humbled and humiliated with an opening day 2-3 defeat at home to Burnley that owned so much to terrible defending than it was to the consequences of having two men sent off. Referee Craig Pawson was not in a compassionate mood after brandishing shot first yellow card on two minutes - a foul by Marcos Alonso. But it all fell apart for the Blues on 14 minutes when skipper Gary Cahill was given a straight red for a reckless challenge on Steven Dafour. Then it was a case of horrible defending that saw the visitors race into a 3-0 lead. New boy Alvaro Morata got a second half goal back before David Luiz’s late goal gave the Chelsea faithful a glimmer of hope of a sensational comeback.But Cesc Fabregas was then sent off for a second yellow with eight minutes left.

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After two minutes, Marcos Alsonso became the first Chelsea player of the season to go on the ref’s book for a foul on Johann Berg Gudmunsson. The main attacking outlet for the Blues was on the right with Cesar Azpilicueta sending in deadly balls. However, Burnley’s defence held firm. Then on 14 minutes skipper Gary Cahill took the ball forward, but lost control of the ball and challenged Steven Defour. Referee Craig Pawson, right on the spot, instantly brandished a red card.

That means Cahill will miss then trip to Spurs and Everton and Seconds later Fabregas was yellow carded, for sarcastically clapping Pawson decision to give a foul against him. Jeremie Boga, on his league debut was sacrificed in favour of substitute centre-back Andreas Christensen, also making his league, debut on 18 minutes. With the man advantage, Burnley took the lead on 24 minutes . A regulation right wing cross by Matthew Lowton was met on the scuffed volley by striker Sam Volkes, who got ahead of David Luiz. The ball edged towards the corner of the net and Courtois even got a hand to it, but it inched inside his right hand corner. Worse was to follow on 39 minutes when a rasper of a left-foot drive by Stephen Ward, on the left after a quick free-kick saw the ball zip across Courtois path and into the far corner of his net to double the visitors lead. Incredibly three minutes later and it’s 0-3. Another simple short free-kick saw the ball pinged into the Chelsea penalty area and unmarked Vokes smashed home a powerful header into the ball of the net. There were no change at half time by either side. But that soon changed as new boy Alvaro Morata, a £60million buy from Real Madrid, entered the fray on 58 minutes, replacing ineffectual Michy Batshuayi. Despite the dire performance, the majority of the 41, 616 fans still cheered head coach Antonio Conte’s name from the stands. The Blues forced goalkeeper Tom Heaton into a couple of smart saves, in a hope of regaining a foothold in the match. And they did. With 22 minutes left on the clock, it was Burnley who switched off, allowing Willian to clip in the perfect curling ball to in-running Morata to deftly clip a diving header past Heaton from eight yards out. Chelsea thought they had a second on 72 minutes. But Christensen’s ap;pent goal-bound short was slotted home by Morata, but he was adjudged to be offside. But the recovery, if that what is was was short-lived as Fabregas was shown his second yellow card for a challenge on Cork on 82 minutes to reduce the champions to nine men. Sensationally the Blues nabbed a second with three minutes left, Morata nodded on for Luiz to volley sweetly home. But Burnley could have got a fourth but Robbie Brady's free kick rebounded off the post.

Four minutes of added time was not enough for an undeserved comeback and the Blues lost their opening Day defeat for the first time since Coventry City in 1998.

Team: : Courtois; Rudiger, David Luiz, Cahill; Azpilicueta, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso; Willian, Boga, Batshuayi. Subs: Caballero, Morata, Kenedy, Musonda, Christensen, Tomori, Scott

Burnley Heaton, Lowton, Cork, Tarkowski, Mee, Vokes, Brady, Hendricks, Defour, Berg Gudmundsson, Ward. Subs, Pope, Taylor, barbers, Westwood, Walters, Long, Arfield

Referee: Craig Pawson

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