|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Chelsea begin with record-breaking win
August 12, 2007 22:03 IST
Chelsea opened their Premier League title bid with a record-breaking 3-2 win over Birmingham City while London [Images] rivals Arsenal snatched a late 2-1 victory over Fulham on Sunday.
Chelsea, looking to wrest the title back from Manchester United, who were playing later against Reading, took the points with a second-half strike from Ghana midfielder Michael Essien.
Victory was made even sweeter at Stamford Bridge by Chelsea setting an unbeaten home record in the top-flight with 64 matches in a row. The run dates back to February 2004 and eclipses the previous mark set by Liverpool from February 1978 to January 1981.
Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho told BBC Five Live radio: "We had so many chances to kill the game, it would have been more enjoyable for me to see a 4-2 or a 5-3 than a 3-2."
But he added: "It was a good game to celebrate the home record, a game with goals and enthusiasm, and better than a 0-0 where we still have the record but it's not a good game."
Mourinho, whose side have suffered a spate of injuries, was without captain and central defender John Terry, but was able to send on Ivorian striker Didier Drogba from the subs' bench.
In a whirlwind first half, Birmingham took a shock lead with a 15th minute header from Finnish former Chelsea striker Mikael Forssell.
The hosts hit back with goals from league debutants Claudio Pizarro of Peru and Frenchman Florent Malouda, who was on target again after scoring in last Sunday's Community Shield defeat by United.
City levelled with a left-footed bullet strike from their new French signing Olivier Kapo, but Essien gave Chelsea a deserved victory with a curling first-time shot to Shaun Wright-Phillips's cut-back.
Dutch striker Robin van Persie converted an 83rd minute penalty and Belarus midfielder Alexander Hleb struck a 90th minute winner to give Arsenal their victory in a London derby at the Emirates Stadium.
A goalkeeping howler by Jens Lehmann had gifted Fulham the lead in the first minute, the German's fluffed clearance leaving new Northern Ireland striker David Healy a tap-in on his competitive debut.
Chelsea and Arsenal followed the winning lead of fellow title hopefuls Liverpool, who beat Aston Villa 2-1 on Saturday with a brilliant late strike by captain Steven Gerrard.