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Wednesday December 13th, 2017 3:56AM

9-man Chelsea loses 3-2 to Burnley to open EPL title defense

By The Associated Press
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LONDON (AP) — Chelsea had two players sent off and lost 3-2 to Burnley as it started its English Premier League title defense on Saturday.

Captain Gary Cahill was shown a straight red card for a studs-first lunge in the 13th minute, before the champions conceded three goals in a 20-minute period before halftime.

Striker Sam Vokes scored two of them by converting crosses out wide, either side of a stunning volley by left back Stephen Ward.

Alvaro Morata reduced the deficit on his first league start since a club-record move from Real Madrid for 58 million pounds ($75 million) in the 69th, as Chelsea improved after halftime.

Any hopes of an unlikely comeback looked to have disappeared when midfielder Cesc Fabregas was red-carded in the 81st after receiving his second booking. However, David Luiz ensured a tense finish when he volleyed home in the 88th.

The result will not improve the mood of Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, who hasn't hidden his frustration at failing to significantly bolster his squad in the offseason. With Eden Hazard, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Pedro Rodriguez injured and Victor Moses suspended, Chelsea had a threadbare match-day 18.

Jeremie Boga, a 20-year-old French forward, was even given a debut. It only lasted 18 minutes, when he was sacrificed as Conte reorganized following Cahill's sending-off.

Chelsea, which won 17 of its 19 home games last season, became the second straight team to begin its league title defense with a loss, after Leicester last season.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports
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