Sam Vokes, Burnley Hold off 9-Man Chelsea in Wild 3-2 Win

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 12, 2017

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12:  Stephen Ward of Burnley celebrates scoring his sides second goal with Steven Defour of Burnley during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Burnley at Stamford Bridge on August 12, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas were sent off as Burnley stunned nine-man Chelsea 3-2 on Saturday to ensure the Blues got their Premier League title defence off to a losing start at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea were reduced to 10 men in the 14th minute when Cahill was sent off for a reckless challenge on Steven Defour, and they found themselves 3-0 down by half-time as Sam Vokes scored either side of a sensational Stephen Ward strike.

Substitute Alvaro Morata pulled one back in the second half, and he assisted David Luiz as Chelsea grabbed another, despite Fabregas picking up a second yellow card. But the Blues were unable to complete their comeback.

Burnley enjoyed a positive start as they displayed the hard work and organisation that kept them in the English top flight last season.

The Blues weren't troubled, though, until Cahill caught Defour with a high, studs-up challenge after the ball ran away from him in front of referee Craig Pawson, and the England international promptly received his marching orders.

Chelsea's English defender Gary Cahill (C) is shown a red card by English referee Craig Pawson after a foul on Burnley's Belgian midfielder Steven Defour during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Burnley at Stamford Bridge in Lo
IAN KINGTON/Getty Images

Goal's Nizaar Kinsella believed the red card was fair, though the Telegraph's Matt Law might have been more inclined to give him a yellow:

Fabregas received a booking shortly after for sarcastically applauding Pawson, and proceedings soon got even worse for the hosts. After Vokes had a header disallowed because of an infringement in the buildup, he turned home Matthew Lowton's cross to give the Clarets the lead in the 24th minute.

Ward doubled the visitors' lead in spectacular fashion in the 39th minute when he controlled a lovely ball from Jack Cork on the left-hand edge of the area before shrugging off N'Golo Kante and lashing in a venomous effort past Thibaut Courtois.

Some sloppy defending allowed Vokes a second before the break, as he rose unchallenged to head home Defour's cross in the 43rd minute.

Per Squawka Football, the striker has begun the 2017/18 season as he finished the last:

After the break, Chelsea sought a way back into the contest through Marcos Alonso as he drove the team's efforts from the left flank, and he twice tested Tom Heaton from distance. The latter was a free-kick that forced a superb stop from the Burnley goalkeeper.

Morata was the one who found the net when he escaped the attentions of Burnley's back four to glance home a diving header from Willian's cross in the 69th minute.

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12:  Alvaro Morata of Chelsea scores his sides first goal during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Burnley at Stamford Bridge on August 12, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

The Spaniard's eagerness cost his team minutes later, though, when he tapped in Andreas Christensen's goal-bound effort from an offside position.

Chelsea's comeback then ground to a halt when Fabregas was booked for a foul on Cork. ESPN FC's Liam Twomey examined the suspensions he and Cahill can expect:

The Blues set up a tense finish when Luiz volleyed home Morata's flick-on in the 88th minute, while at the other end, Robbie Brady crashed a free-kick on to the post as Burnley desperately held on.

Morata's outstanding cameo is cause for optimism for the champions, but losing two players from an already-stretched squad will make the coming weeks difficult.

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