De­fend­ing cham­pion Chelsea stum­bles in opener



On and off the field, noth­ing is go­ing right for Chelsea early in its English Premier League ti­tle de­fense. In­juries to key play­ers. Frus­tra­tion in the trans­fer mar­ket. And on Sat­ur­day in Lon­don, in the open­ing week­end of the Premier League sea­son, Chelsea suf­fered a sur­prise 3-2 home loss to Burn­ley, a team that is ex­pected to be among the can­di­dates for rel­e­ga­tion.

Af­ter a dream start to life at Chelsea — win­ning the league ti­tle last year — Man­ager An­to­nio Conte al­ready looks to have a tough job on his hands in his sec­ond sea­son.

“I am not wor­ried,” Conte said. “I am ready to fight [on the same side as] th­ese play­ers.”

They’ll need to fight, with ti­tle fa­vorite Manch­ester City’s ex­pen­sively as­sem­bled team start­ing with a 2-0 win at Brighton. Of other pos­si­ble ti­tle con­tenders, Liver­pool drew at Wat­ford, 3-3, af­ter Arse­nal beat Le­ices­ter, 4-3, on Fri­day.

Boos greeted both the half­time and fi­nal whis­tle as Chelsea fans en­coun­tered the un­usual feel­ing of a home loss un­der Conte, af­ter 17 wins in 19 league games at Stam­ford Bridge last sea­son.

The jeers likely were di­rected at the match of­fi­cials, with Chelsea hav­ing seen a player sent off in both halves. Gary Cahill was shown a straight red card in the 14th minute for a studs-first lunge, and Burn­ley cap­i­tal­ized by scor­ing three times be­fore half­time through Sam Vokes (twice) and Stephen Ward.

Liver­pool also stum­bled in its opener, a 3-3 tie at Wat­ford. The ab­sence of play­maker Philippe Coutinho didn’t stop the goals flow­ing for Liver­pool. The prob­lem, as ever, came on the de­fen­sive end. Liver­pool con­ceded the ty­ing goal in sec­ond-half in­jury time. It was the lat­est in a stretch of de­fen­sive lapses that blighted the team’s ti­tle chal­lenge last sea­son.

And Wayne Rooney marked his first Premier League game back at Ever­ton, his boy­hood club, by scor­ing in a 1-0 win over vis­it­ing Stoke. Rooney headed home a right-wing cross in firsthalf in­jury time to score.

“It was a spe­cial mo­ment for me,” Rooney said of the goal.

GER­MANY: Borus­sia Dort­mund be­gan its Ger­man Cup de­fense by beat­ing FC Rielasin­gen-Arlen, 4-0, and Bay­ern Mu­nich also pro­gressed eas­ily.

Dort­mund’s game be­gan with more at­ten­tion off the field than on it af­ter the club banned Ous­mane Dem­bele from play­ing and train­ing with the side Thurs­day. The for­ward failed to show for train­ing as Barcelona made a bid re­ported to be worth $124 mil­lion.

MLS: Clint Dempsey scored on a header in the 36th minute, and the Seat­tle Sounders stretched their un­beaten streak to eight games with a 1-0 vic­tory against vis­it­ing Sport­ing Kansas City . . . .

Justin Meram scored in the 73rd minute to help the Colum­bus Crew beat the vis­it­ing Chicago Fire, 3-1 . . . .

Sean Davis as­sisted on the go-ahead goal and added an in­sur­ance goal in the 80th minute to lift the New York Red Bulls to a con­tentious 3-1 win over Or­lando City in Har­ri­son, N.J. There were four yel­low cards, and Or­lando’s Kaka was given a red card . . . .

Teal Bun­bury scored his fourth goal in five matches, help­ing the New Eng­land Revo­lu­tion de­feat the Van­cou­ver White­caps, 1-0, in Foxbor­ough, Mass.


Burn­ley’s Sam Vokes, right, scores the open­ing goal against Chelsea. He scored a sec­ond goal as well.

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