Chelsea picked up their first win of the new Premier League season on Sunday despite going down to 10 men against West Brom at the Hawthorns. Captain John Terry once again failed to see the end of the match, after he was sent off for hauling down Soloman Rondon. Meanwhile, Pedro scored a goal and made one for Diego Costa on his debut, with Cesar Azpilicueta also getting on the scoresheet.
Pedro starting was the big news ahead of the game, despite the La Liga season only starting this weekend, Jose Mourinho took a risk with his fitness. Terry was back in defence after being taken off last week, and he was partnered by Kurt Zouma. Thibaut Courtois returned from suspension, replacing Asmir Begovic in goal.
Much of the attention was focused on how Pedro would get on for the champions here, but it was West Brom who made the better start. They took advantage of a Chelsea side who looked shaky, and they were handed the chance to take the lead in the first half. Nemanja Matic gave away a penalty to the hosts, but Courtois’ leg kept out James Morrision’s rather tame effort.
After that the game sprung in to life, and it was Pedro who finally broke the deadlock. His link up play with Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas showed real promise, and his one-two with the Belgian got him in position to hit the opener. Despite taking a clear deflection, the goal showed just what the former Barcelona man is capable of.
He continued his great start soon after, as he fired an effort across goal, which fell perfectly for Costa to hit home. It was the Spaniard’s first goal of the season, and it put the visiting side into a comfortable position. The forward didn’t have the best of times against City or Swansea, but he was fantastic at the Hawthorns.
Morrison made up for his penalty miss by pulling a goal back five minutes later. The back four struggled with the physicality of Rondon, and that left space for the Scot just inside the box, and he fired home a half volley. The Blues extended the lead again just before half time, as Cesar Azpilicueta scored his first Premier League goal.
Things took a turn early on in the second half, as a ball over the top caught out Terry, and he looked to have little chance of catching Rondon. He tugged on the forward’s arm, bringing him down just outside the penalty area. The Blues captain was quickly sent off, and the tide then turned. Morrison headed in his second of the game soon after, really turning up the heat.
In the end, the Blues hung on, getting a much needed three points. After a poor start, this win will be a big confidence boost, and they can get their season properly up and running.
LCN Man of the Match: Pedro