Chelsea held 2-2 by Swansea, Man U edge Spurs

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY TREVOR HUG­GINS

Chelsea be­gan its English Premier League ti­tle de­fense with a red card for goal­keeper Thibaut Cour­tois and a 2- 2 draw at home to Swansea on a frus­trat­ing open­ing Satur­day at Stam­ford Bridge.

Jose Mour­inho’s side twice had the lead, but paid the price for Cour­tois’ rash chal­lenge on Swansea striker Bafe­timbi Gomis as the France in­ter­na­tional raced through on the coun­ter­at­tack.

Ref­eree Michael Oliver had no hes­i­ta­tion in pro­duc­ing a straight red card and point­ing to the spot, al­low­ing Gomis to beat sub­sti­tute keeper As­mir Be­govic from the spot and make it 2- 2.

Manch­ester United needed an own goal to beat Tot­ten­ham 1- 0 in the day’s early kick­off, while Clau­dio Ranieri’s Le­ices­ter beat Sun­der­land 4- 2, and Crys­tal Palace earned a con­tro­ver­sial 3- 1 win at Nor­wich.

There was no fairy­tale start to Bournemouth’s first ever sea­son in the topflight, as the team slumped to a 1- 0 de­feat to As­ton Villa at its 11,700- ca­pac­ity sea­side sta­dium.

Wat­ford, pro­moted along with Bournemouth, was twice in front against Ever­ton be­fore hav­ing to set­tle for 2- 2 at Goodison Park.

The big­gest game of the day was saved for last, though, as Chelsea came out for what was ex­pected to be a rou­tine vic­tory in west Lon­don.

In a hec­tic

spell mid­way through the first half, Os­car put the hosts ahead in the 23rd minute, An­dre Ayew lev­eled in the 29th, and Chelsea’s lead was re­stored with an own goal by Swansea de­fender Fed­erico Fer­nan­dez.

How­ever, ev­ery­thing changed within 10 min­utes of the restart, when Cour­tois felled Gomis as the France striker burst into the area on the break.

Gomis easily con­verted the penalty in the 55th, and had the ball in the back of the Blues’ net in the 68th, but the strike was ruled out for off­side.

Mour­inho would not be drawn on the send­ing off, say­ing only, “af­ter that, ev­ery­thing is dif­fer­ent.”

“We played very well in the first half, the game was un­der con­trol and the play­ers were play­ing with more and more con­fi­dence,” he said. “To play 35 min­utes with one player less in the first match of the sea­son where the con­di­tion and the sharp­ness is not at the top is even more dif­fi­cult.”

Swansea coach Garry Monk was clearly de­lighted with his side.

“We were mag­nif­i­cent,” he said. “Ev­ery­one con­trib­uted for 90 min­utes - to come to a very dif­fi­cult place, to an ex­cel­lent side, and play the way we played, and have the chances that we had.”

Chelsea was not the only side that had to rely on an own goal.

At Old Traf­ford, Spurs de­fender Kyle Walker handed all three points to United by steer­ing the ball into his own net in the 22nd minute as he tried to tackle United cap­tain Wayne Rooney.

It was one of very few chances in a scrappy match, which Louis van Gaal’s new- look United started with four pre­sea­son sign­ings.

Ser­gio Romero was in goal af­ter Van Gaal de­cided that Real Madrid tar­get David de Gea was not in the right frame of mind to play. Full­back Mat­teo Dar­main, along with mid­field­ers Mor­gan Sch­nei­der­lin and Mem­phis De­pay, all made con­vinc­ing de­buts, and Romero im­proved af­ter some early signs of nerves.

Another of new United’s new sign­ings, midfielder Bas­tian Sch­we­in­steiger, re­placed Michael Car­rick on the hour.

“It was a very dif­fi­cult game be­cause you have seen two teams that want to press, so ev­ery player at the ball had a very small ( amount of) time to play,” Van Gaal said.

The place to go for goals was Le­ices­ter, where for­mer Chelsea coach Ranieri made an ideal start to his re­turn to the league af­ter an 11- year ab­sence.

Jamie Vardy struck first with a header af­ter 11 min­utes and Riyad Mahrez scored in the 18th and from the penalty spot in the 25th. Jermain De­foe and Steven Fletcher grabbed sec­ond- half goals for Sun­der­land, while Marc Al­brighton got Le­ices­ter’s fourth to seal the points.

Noth­ing went right for Nor­wich, which had a po­ten­tial equal­izer dis­al­lowed in what be­came a heavy home de­feat.

Sub­sti­tute Cameron Jerome thought he’d made it 2-2 when he stretched his boot up for an ac­ro­batic over­head shot that flew into the net in the 74th — only for ref­eree Si­mon Hooper to whis­tle for his foot be­ing too high.

Nor­wich also ap­pealed for a penalty when Se­bastien Bas­song was pushed over by Con­nor Wick­ham in the area in the 89th.

New sign­ing Yo­han Cabaye net­ted Palace’s third on a coun­ter­at­tack in stop­page time.

“Un­for­tu­nately, we didn’t get the rub of the green to­day,” Nor­wich coach Alex Neil said.

Wil­fried Zaha and Damien De­laney gave Palace a 2- 0 lead be­fore Nathan Red­mond pulled one back in the 69th.

Bournemouth’s much- awaited game at Vi­tal­ity Sta­dium was de­cided by Villa sub­sti­tute Rudy Gest­ede’s header in the 72nd for last sea­son’s FA Cup fi­nal­ists.

On Sun­day, Ar­se­nal wel­comes West Ham, New­cas­tle hosts Southamp­ton, and Liver­pool is away to Stoke.

AP

(Above) Swansea’s Lukasz Fabi­an­ski, right, claims a ball dur­ing the English Premier League soc­cer match be­tween Chelsea and Swansea City at Stam­ford Bridge, Satur­day, Aug. 8. (Right) Chelsea’s Diego Costa, right, and Swansea’s Ash­ley Wil­liams chal­lenge for the ball dur­ing the English Premier League soc­cer match be­tween Chelsea and Swansea City at Stam­ford Bridge sta­dium in Lon­don, Satur­day.

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