Defending EPL champions Chelsea held, Man United open with win

  • AFP, London
  • Updated: Aug 09, 2015 00:37 IST

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 sent off 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 Chelsea will face a fight to retain their title.

Diego Costa overcame hamstring trouble to start up front for Chelsea and after a bright start by Swansea, the home side 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.

The dangerous Jefferson Montero twice tested Begovic and Gomis had a goal disallowed for offside, while Fabianski saved at his near post from Eden Hazard as a pulsating contest drew to a close.

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.

"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, dropped 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."

Cabaye strikes for Palace

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.

"It was a really good performance from us. 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.


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