Champions Chelsea hammered at home as shaky Liverpool held away at Watford




LONDON (Reuters) – Premier League champions Chelsea suffered an embarrassing home defeat on the first Saturday of the new season, having two men sent off as unfancied Burnley beat them 3-2 at Stamford Bridge.

Antonio Conte’s disjointed side struggled from the early stages when captain Gary Cahill was dismissed for a lunging tackle and they found themselves three-nil down at halftime to a team who gained only seven points away from home all last season.

Wales international Sam Vokes scored two of the goals and Stephen Ward the other.

New signing Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid came on to pull one back midway through the second half and then provided an assist for David Luiz, but in-between midfielder Cesc Fabregas was also sent off for a second yellow card.

It was a dispiriting afternoon for Conte, who won the title in his first season at the club but has complained that Chelsea have not signed enough new players while allowing several to leave.

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp protested that Watford’s stoppage-time equaliser by Manuel Britos in an entertaining 3-3 draw should have been disallowed for offside.

“We were unlucky in the end,” Klopp said. “The equaliser was offside. It’s obvious because the linesman is on the line. He needs to see it.

“We would have had defensive areas we need to work on if we’d won 3-2. We were the better team, we should have won.”

After the opening game of the season on Friday produced seven goals and a late winner for Arsenal, who beat Leicester City 4-3, the two teams at Vicarage Road served up more of the same entertainment for a worldwide television audience — including some poor defending.

Football Soccer – Premier League – Chelsea vs Burnley – London, Britain – August 12, 2017 Burnley’s Tom Heaton celebrates after the match with Stephen WardDylan Martinez

The home side, under new manager Marco Silva, led twice through Stefano Okaka and Abdoulaye Doucoure but Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, with a penalty, both equalised.

Debutant Mohamed Salah seemed to have won the points for the visitors before Britos’s dramatic late intervention.

Promoted Huddersfield Town, playing in the top flight for the first time since 1972 and widely tipped for relegation, cruised to a 3-0 win away to Crystal Palace.

Record signing Steve Mounie, the Benin striker from Montpellier who cost 13 million euros ($15.36 million), scored once in each half after Palace’s Joel Ward put through his own goal.

Wayne Rooney scored on his return to Everton from Manchester United to give the Merseysiders a 1-0 victory at home to Stoke City. It was his 199th Premier League goal and first for Everton since 2004.

Egyptian defender Ahmed Hegazi, on loan to West Bromwich Albion from Al Ahly, scored on his debut in the 1-0 win at home to Bournemouth.

There were no goals on the south coast between Southampton and Swansea City. That meant the Saints have not scored at home in their last six games.

Promoted Brighton were playing at home to Manchester City in the late game on Saturday.

Liverpool showed familiar defensive weaknesses after conceding a trio of soft goals including a stoppage-time equaliser in an absorbing 3-3 Premier League draw at Watford on Saturday.

Defender Miguel Britos bundled the ball home at the death after Liverpool had come from 1-0 and 2-1 down to lead 3-2 thanks to a three-minute blitz in the second half, when new signing Mohamed Salah made an impact.

Former Chelsea winger Salah, who joined Liverpool from AS Roma during the close season, won a penalty converted by Roberto Firmino in the 55th minute and then bundled in the Brazilian’s lofted pass from close range.

But the visitors were punished for sloppy defending and missing a string of chances as Britos popped up at the near post to delight the home fans at Vicarage Road, leaving Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp blaming the officials and bad luck.

“The equaliser was offside. It’s obvious because the linesman is on the line. He needs to see it,” said Klopp.

“The first half I wasn’t too happy with. We passed but we couldn’t see what we actually wanted. The second half was a lot better but we forgot to close the game.”

Having declared that the club’s want-away Brazil forward Philippe Coutinho is not for sale, Klopp may need to strengthen his back four who looked completely at sea almost every time the home side came forward

Football Soccer – Premier League – Watford vs Liverpool – Watford, Britain – August 12, 2017 Watford’s Miguel Britos celebrates scoring their third goal with Tom CleverleyDarren Staples

Liverpool fell behind in the eighth minute after striker Stefano Okaka was left completely unmarked at the near post to head in a Jose Holebas corner.

Sadio Mane drew the visitors level with a classy equaliser, having started and finished a slick move which involved a double exchange of passes with Alberto Moreno and a deft touch by Emre Can.

Yet Liverpool were hit by another sucker punch just three minutes later, as they failed to clear a low cross by Tom Cleverley which left midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure with a simple tap-in.

Liverpool appeared to be heading for victory after Firmino sent Watford keeper Heurelho Gomez the wrong way with his spot-kick and then chipped the ball into Salah’s stride to put the visitors 3-2 ahead.

Yet they missed several good chances to put the game beyond Watford’s reach and paid the price when a poorly delivered corner from the right caught them napping and Britos poked in the equaliser after a goal-mouth melee.

Former Liverpool captain Jamie Carragher criticised the club’s defensive system and pointed the finger at their German coach.

“It’s the set up from the manager,” Carragher told Sky Sports.

“They concede the most goals out of anyone in the top six. Nothing has changed.”