Saturday, August 8

Chelsea suffer disappointing opening day draw after Courtois red card

Chelsea suffered a disappointing 2-2 draw with Swansea City at Stamford Bridge as they were unable to begin their defence of the Premier League title with a win, losing goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to a red card in the process.

Jose Mourinho's side took the lead when Oscar whipped a free kick which was intended as a cross beyond Lukasz Fabianski.

The visitors were soon level through Andre Ayew, who equalised from close range, but the Blues went back in front seconds later as Willian's cross deflected in off Federico Fernandez.

But Swansea equalised again after the interval when Bafetimbi Gomis converted a penalty, having been brought down by the onrushing Courtois, who was shown a red card by referee Michael Oliver.

Gomis had a goal ruled out for offside after his spot kick but Swansea had to settle for a point - which was the least that they deserved for an impressive display as Chelsea boss Mourinho was unable celebrate his agreement of a new four-year deal with a win.

Begovic is now set to make his first start for Chelsea in a mouth-watering match against Manchester City on August 16, with Courtois suspended.

Diego Costa was passed fit to lead the Chelsea line despite concerns over his troublesome hamstring, while Ayew was the only Swansea new-boy in Garry Monk's XI.

Gomis looked poised to open the scoring after 14 minutes when he cut inside Gary Cahill after racing onto Jonjo Shelvey's incisive pass but John Terry denied him with a crucial last-ditch tackle.

Costa wanted a penalty when he went down under a challenge from Fernandez but referee Michael Oliver correctly pointed for a corner as the Swansea defender got a touch of the ball.

Chelsea looked dangerous going forward and they were in front after 23 minutes when Oscar's free kick came through a crowded penalty area and found the far corner of the net.

The champions' lead lasted only six minutes, though, as Ayew made an immediate impact in English football. Courtois produced an outstanding save down to his right to keep out Gomis's downward header but the Ghanaian showed great composure and skill to drag the ball back before firing home from close range after his initial follow-up effort was blocked by Cahill.

Swansea had barely finished celebrating when they fell behind for a second time and there was a huge slice of luck for Chelsea, as Willian's attempted cross struck Fernandez and looped inside the far post.

The visitors again responded well as a Shelvey corner hit the post early in the second half and they were back on level terms with a numerical advantage 10 minutes after the break.

Courtois was given his marching orders after racing out to upend Gomis as he got on the end of another fine Shelvey pass and the French striker picked himself to send Begovic the wrong way from the spot.

Swansea were now dictating the game and Begovic twice denied Jefferson Montero before Gomis's close-range effort was ruled out for offside.

Lukasz Fabianski kept out Eden Hazard's effort at his near post before Radamel Falcao came on as a late substitute but neither side could come up with a winner, with Chelsea at least ensuring that no team has ever lost their first game of a Premier League season as reigning champions.

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