Burnley edge nine-man Chelsea in thriller

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Courtois can't stop Vokes's strike. AFP

Burnley edge nine-man Chelsea in thriller

Tom Smith by Tom Smith @besoccer_com - 0 6,913

Three first half goals from Burnley was enough to see off a late fightback from Premier League champions Chelsea, who had Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas sent off at Stamford Bridge.

After the frantic starts of Arsenal v Leicester and Watford v Liverpool in the opening two games of the Premier League, the early stages at Stamford Bridge were somewhat of a letdown. Chelsea quickly settled into a rhythm and dominated possession while Burnley were happy to sit back and soak up the early pressure.

On 16 minutes Gary Cahill received a straight red card for a challenge on Steven Defour. The Chelsea captain's touch got away from him and he lunged in with his studs up on the Burnley man.

The Clarets looked to take advantage of the situation and within six minutes had a goal disallowed. Robbie Brady delivered a cross from the right, which James Tarkowski did well to head back across goal for Vokes to power into the net. Referee Craig Pawson, however, penalised Tarkowski for an arm across the face of substitute Andreas Christensen.

Burnley continued to press and were rewarded after 24 minutes. Matthew Lowton picked the ball up on the right flank and whipped a hopeful cross into the box. The ball arrived just behind Vokes but the striker managed to connect with the volley and angle his strike past the outstretched hand of Courtois.

After the setback, Chelsea began to see more of the ball and pushed for an equaliser. The closest they came, however, was a speculative strike from Alonso. The Spaniard cut in from the left and unleashed a shot with his right foot, but Burnley defender Tarkowski, who was a rock in defence for the visitors, was on hand to block for the visitors.

On 39 minutes Burnley doubled their lead with a fine strike from Stephen Ward. Jack Cork curled a ball over the Chelsea defence towards the left-hand side of the box and Ward expertly controlled with his chest. After one bounce he fired across Courtois and into the far corner.

Before the Stamford Bridge crowd had time to breathe, Burnley were three ahead. Just four minutes later Defour picked out Vokes, who was sandwiched between Luiz and Alonso, and the Welshman managed to power a header past Courtois.

Chelsea looked bright in the early stages of the second half. Alonso came close again with another long-range effort, but Heaton produced a spectacular save to tip the strike over the bar. 

After 60 minutes, manager Antonio Conte was forced into a change and brought on Morata for his Premier League debut to replace Batshuayi. The Spaniard made an impact after just nine minutes on the pitch. Burnley's defence was caught flat-footed as Willian delivered a ball in from the right that Morata ran onto and directed his diving header into the bottom left corner of Heaton's goal.

Chelsea had the ball in the net again four minutes later but the goal was ruled out for offside. Christensen neatly controlled on the right-hand side of the box and powered a shot past Heaton that Morata was able to tap in. Christensen's original shot looked to be heading in at the far corner, but the Spaniard intervened in an offside position. 

The second red card for Chelsea came after 81 minutes. Fabregas picked up his second yellow (the first came in the first half for sarcastically clapping the referee) after flying in on Cork. It was the correct decision from Pawson as the Burnley man was there first.

The Blues had a glimmer of hope after Luiz scored Chelsea's second. Azpilicueta fired a long ball towards Morata, who was able to flick it into the path of Luiz. The Brazilian then volleyed through the legs of Heaton to bring a nervy end to the game for the Clarets.

It was not to be, however, for nine-man Chelsea. Thy could not grab an equaliser as they started their Premier League title defence with a home defeat to a spirited Burnley side.

 

 

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

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