Chelsea and Swansea split the spoils in four goal thriller
Spirited Swansea City shocked Premier League champions Chelsea, reduced to 10 men, by clinching a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge in their first outing of the new season.
The past two encounters between these teams resulted in Chelsea routs, but the Swans more than held their own here, making for an enthralling match up, and a fantastic opening day advert for England’s top tier.
Jose Mourinho’s men were buoyed by Diego Costa’s Blues return, and the bullish striker showed no signs of injury as he volleyed into the side netting and jostled powerfully with Swansea stopper Lukasz Fabianksi in the first few minutes.
It was Costa’s opposite number Bafetimbi Gomis who had the clearest sight of goal first, however, as a lively Jonjo Shelvey split open Chelsea’s defence in the 14th minute to put the French forward through on goal, but his weak shot was cleared easily.
Garry Monk’s men were soon left to rue that chance not taken, as Oscar curled a free-kick into penalty area soon after to give the hosts the lead. The Brazilian’s set piece was missed by both blue and white shirts, with Fabianksi slow to react and Gomis the culprit for poor marking.
The Swans did not seem disheartened by the blow, as electric Ecuadorian attacker Jefferson Montero continued to steal the show and pose problems down the left flank, drawing defenders to him before hitting a dangerous ball into the area.
Gomis’ bullet header was met with equal force by Thibaut Courtois, but fell kindly to Andre Ayew, who followed up his first blocked shot by lashing in a cool and composed finish past the Belgian on his Premier League bow.
In somewhat of a sucker-punch, however, just 90 seconds later, around the 29th minute mark, Willian’s speculative shot-cross deflected off an unlucky Federico Fernandez and past a helpless Fabianski to put the Stamford Bridge side back in front.
After the break Gomis was once again slow out of the blocks, failing to dispatch a Shelvey corner which fell to his feet. Yet the Swans striker was soon to be a goal hero, as Courtois was rather harshly judged to have denied him a clear goal scoring opportunity in the 51st minute.
The young custodian rushed off his line to intercept Gomis at the edge of the area with his foot raised, bringing the powerful forward down and receiving a red card and conceding a penalty for his troubles.
Back-up goalie Asmir Begovic was subsequently brought off the bench sooner than expected and exchanged for unfortunate opening scorer Oscar, though the Bosnia and Herzegovina international guessed wrong as Gomis fired his spot-kick low and wide to draw the Swans level.
Monk’s side stepped up the pressure, with Montero continuing to buzz around the Blues’ box, testing Begovic twice in quick succession.
Gomis was once again in the thick of it shortly after, and hit the back of the Blues’ net for the second time, only to have it ruled offside following slick work from Shelvey and Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Just minutes later superb Shelvey unleashed substitute Wayne Routledge, but Begovic had the measure of the English winger as the game took on a fascinatingly frenetic pace.
For Chelsea, Eden Hazard finally showed signs of life in the 75th minute with a dazzling solo run, but could only fire straight at Fabianski from a tight angle and saw his later work wasted by substitute Radamel Falcao.
Swansea skipper Ashley Williams was reduced to hauling the Belgian down in the dying moments and duly saw yellow, but the sudden spark came too late for the Blues, as Swansea held out for an impressive point.