Swansea Thwart Chelsea And Man United Open With Win

Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was sent off as Chelsea began their Premier League title defence with an engrossing 2-2 draw at home to an excellent Swansea City side on Saturday.

Jose Mourinho’s men were leading 2-1 at Stamford Bridge when Courtois was dismissed for fouling Bafetimbi Gomis right on the edge of his area in the 52nd minute and the French striker scored the equaliser from the spot.

It was another impressive opening-day display by Garry Monk’s Swansea, who won 2-1 at Manchester United a year ago, and added weight to Mourinho’s prediction that Chelseawill face a fight to retain their title.

“The team was playing very, very well in the first half,” said Mourinho. “In the second, in one minute, it was a penalty, red card and the goal — 2-2.

“I would say we were the best team with 11 players and with 10 we fought hard, some fighting at the limit of their condition.”

With Diego Costa overcoming hamstring trouble to start,Chelsea weathered a bright start by Swansea and went ahead in the 23rd minute when Oscar’s free-kick from wide on the left curled straight in.

Swansea debutant Andre Ayew equalised six minutes later, finishing smartly after an initial attempt had been blocked, only for Chelsea to regain the lead when Willian’s cross deflected off Federico Fernandez and looped over visiting goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski for a cruel own goal.

But after Swansea midfielder Jonjo Shelvey had hit the post from a corner, Courtois was sent off for felling Gomis and the former Saint-Etienne frontman beat Asmir Begovic from the spot to equalise.

“Today for 90 minutes we were excellent,” Swansea manager Monk, whose side finished eighth last season, told Sky Sports.

“I said to the players, if you believe in what we’re doing, we can come to places like this and create enough chances to win the game.”

Earlier, Kyle Walker’s own goal gave Manchester United a 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford, but Louis van Gaal’s reconfigured team showed plenty of ring rust.

Walker put through his own net in the 22nd minute, rushing back in an attempt to prevent England team-mate Wayne Rooney taking aim from Ashley Young’s cross and succeeding only in scuffing the ball into his own net.

United handed competitive debuts to Sergio Romero, Matteo Darmian, Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis Depay, while Bastian Schweinsteiger came on in the second half to become the club’s first German player.

– Cabaye strikes for Palace –

“The first time you play at Old Trafford is always difficult, but I liked the performance, especially of Darmian,” United manager Van Gaal, who was celebrating his 64th birthday, told BT Sport.

On goalkeeper David de Gea, left out amid interest from Real Madrid, Van Gaal added: “He is our best player for the past two seasons, chosen by the fans, so we can’t let him go so easily.”

Leicester City finished the day on top of the table after Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez inspired them to a 4-2 home win over Sunderland at the King Power Stadium in Claudio Ranieri’s first game at the Foxes helm.

After Marc Albrighton teed up Jamie Vardy for an 11th-minute header, Mahrez scored with a header from another Albrighton cross and then added a penalty to put Leicester 3-0 up with only 25 minutes gone.

Jermain Defoe and Steven Fletcher found the net for Sunderland in the second half, but a smart strike by Albrighton kept Leicester in control.

Watford fared the best of the three promoted clubs, drawing 2-2 with Everton at Goodison Park.

But they twice squandered the lead, with goals from Miguel Layun and substitute Odion Ighalo cancelled out in turn by Ross Barkley and Arouna Kone.

The first top-flight game in Bournemouth’s 116-year history ended in a 1-0 home defeat against Aston Villa, who prevailed courtesy of a 72nd-minute header from their new striker Rudy Gestede.

“I can’t be too critical,” said Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe, whose side won the Championship last season. “I’m disappointed with the defeat, but looking forward to the rest of the season.”

Norwich City, promoted via the play-offs in May, lost 3-1 at home to Crystal Palace.
Wilfried Zaha and Damien Delaney put the visitors in charge before substitute Nathan Redmond hit back for Norwich, but Palace’s star recruit Yohan Cabaye sealed victory in stoppage time.

Arsenal host West Ham United and Liverpool travel to Stoke City on Sunday, with last season’s runners-up Manchester City opening their campaign at West Bromwich Albion on Monday. (Vanguard)
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