Sunday 23 October 2016

Sluggish Chelsea lucky to escape with a point with Swansea

Chelsea's John Terry remonstrates with referee Michael Oliver after the game
Chelsea's John Terry remonstrates with referee Michael Oliver after the game
Swansea's Bafetimbi Gomis scores their second goal from the penalty spot

Chelsea were fortunate not to become the first ever Premier League champions to start their title defence with defeat after Swansea threatened an opening-day upset

A celebratory atmosphere remained around Stamford Bridge as the club basked in the afterglow of last season's success - a feat Jose Mourinho, fresh from signing a new deal, warned would not be repeated unless they showed the "quality and determination of champions".

The Blues were found wanting in the first department against Garry Monk's impressive side, although they showed no little determination to secure a 2-2 draw after Thibaut Courtois' sending off.

Things had started well enough for the reigning champions as they got the better of a manic seven-minute, first-half spell, started when Oscar's free-kick crept into the far corner.

Debutant Andre Ayew drew Swansea level in style, following a fine touch with an unerring finish, only for a Willian cross-shot to then loop in off Federico Fernandez.

However, Monk's side did not falter and dominated the second half, deservedly levelling through Bafetimbi Gomis after the striker was taken down in the box by Courtois.

Chelsea just about held on after the goalkeeper's sending off and had a few chances of their own, but in truth they were lucky to escape with a point as Swansea continued where they left off last season.

Swansea were first to threaten, with Gomis heading wide and then being denied by a late John Terry block.

Diego Costa was infuriated by Michael Oliver's decision not to award a penalty against Fernandez, before an already entertaining, end-to-end contest burst into life with three goals in seven minutes.

With 23 minutes on the clock, Chelsea struck the first blow as Oscar curled in a free-kick that evaded those in the box and nestled in the far corner.

Courtois saved well from Gomis, only for the ball to run free and, having seen his initial follow-up blocked, Ayew showed exceptional awareness to drag the ball back and rifle home.

It was a memorable introduction but one cancelled out inside 100 seconds as Willian's cross-shot looped in off Fernandez.

Costa and Gylfi Sigurdsson tried their luck as the first half continued, with Gomis denied from close range as Swansea returned strongly after the break.

Gomis, put through on goal by Jonjo Shelvey, was halted by a clumsy Courtois challenge, earning Swansea a penalty and the goalkeeper a red card.

Terry was booked for protesting and summer signing Asmir Begovic's first moment in a Chelsea shirt involved him picking the ball out of the net as Gomis coolly slotted home.

Monk's side did not stop there and Jefferson Montero forced Begovic into two fine saves, before Shelvey tried his luck direct from a corner.

Swansea fans celebrated wildly as Gomis turned in their third - only to be rightly chalked off for offside - before Wayne Routledge, on for the injured Montero, forced another save from Begovic.

After Eden Hazard and Radamel Falcao had gone close Costa punched the deck in frustration having felt the excellent Ashley Williams had clipped him just outside the box - frustration that summed up Chelsea's afternoon.

Swansea manager Monk told Sky Sports 1: "It's surprising to say that (he was disappointed). When we came here last year we did well for 45 minutes but today we were excellent for 90.

"The players came to the home of the champions and naturally we didn't quite push enough but I have told the players to believe in themselves.

"The message to the players all pre-season is that I want these players to be able to play and express themselves."

On the sending off, he added: "I've seen the replay, it was an opportunity for a goal."

Ghana international Ayew was pleased to score a goal on his Chelsea debut.

"I think It was a tough one; I am lucky that the guys are really cool. I really want to praise that we had a great game. I think we had a great quality today and need to continue like that."

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