Ten-man Chelsea held amid high drama
Chelsea were embroiled in familiar Premier League high drama as the champions were reduced to 10 men and held 2-2 by Swansea City on Saturday in an entertaining start to the defence of their title at their home fortress.
The new season had earlier kicked off in unique fashion with a 22nd minute own goal by Tottenham Hotspur's Kyle Walker giving Manchester United a 1-0 victory in an undistinguished season opener at Old Trafford.
Never before had the competition begun with a player putting the ball into his own net but the day's late fixture at Stamford Bridge also featured an own goal, plus much, much more.
The rich entertainment included Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois being sent off and the danger of that rarest of events -- manager Jose Mourinho losing a home match to inspired opponents.
The games involving the big guns, neither of whom were near their best, book ended a tough afternoon for the unfancied newcomers with Watford pegged back to a 2-2 draw at Everton after twice leading and Norwich City losing 3-1 at home to Crystal Palace.
Bournemouth, the romantics' favourites after their extraordinary six-year march from near-bankruptcy to the Premier League, had their fairytale rudely interrupted at a vibrant, emotional Dean Court as Aston Villa defeated them 1-0 in their first-ever match in the top flight in 125 years.
Six minutes after Oscar had put Chelsea ahead with a 23rd minute free kick, Swansea's new signing Andre Ayew equalised only for the hosts to restore their lead within 92 seconds thanks to a big, looping deflection off luckless defender Federico Fernandez from a Willian cross.
The own goal, which left goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski hopelessly stranded, seemed to have settled Chelsea only for Swansea to roar forward again, with Jefferson Montero in wonderful form, following the break.
After Bafetimbi Gomis beat the offside trap in the 55th, he was hacked down by Courtois on the edge of the penalty area.
Referee Michael Oliver showed the Belgian keeper a red card and Gomis got up to slot the penalty past his replacement in goal, new signing Asmir Begovic.
As Swansea sniffed a similar sensation to when they beat Manchester United in last season's opening game, Gomis even had a goal disallowed for offside amid thrilling combat.
Though Oliver's sending off decision appeared debatable, Mourinho, unusually, declined to comment but was happy to defend his team's effort.
"To play 35 minutes with one player less in the first game of the season when our condition and sharpness is not at the top is even more difficult so, under the circumstances, I have nothing to say against my players," he said.
Bournemouth, playing in the smallest ground ever to stage Premier League football, saw their party pooped by Rudy Gestede, Villa's new signing from Blackburn Rovers who headed home a 72nd minute winner after coming off the bench.