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Chelsea 2 Burnley 3: Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas sent off in embarrassing Premier League loss for Antonio Conte

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 12/08/2017 Vaishali Bhardwaj
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Chelsea saw their Premier League title defence begin on the worst possible note after the champions lost 3-2 to Burnley and had captain Gary Cahill and midfielder Cesc Fabregas sent off at Stamford Bridge.

After just 14 minutes of the Blues' first game of the 2017-18 campaign, Cahill was shown a straight red card for a foul on Steven Defour which handed Burnley the advantage as the visitors went on to score three times before the break courtesy of a Sam Vokes brace and a fine effort from Stephen Ward.

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Antonio Conte reacted by bringing on new striker Alvaro Morata, who got his official debut off to the best start when his diving header restored Chelsea's hopes with 20 minutes to go.

But after Fabregas was dismissed for two bookable offences, the Blues were forced to accept a bitter 3-2 defeat at home despite David Luiz's late goal - with a derby clash against London rivals Tottenham to come next week, a game Conte will not have Cahill or Fabregas available for.

Conte had come into the game in west London with an injury headache - with Eden Hazard and Tiemoue Bakayoko still out with an ankle and knee issue respectively while Pedro was ruled out after suffering an ankle injury in the Community Shield loss against Arsenal last weekend.

It meant Conte starting academy graduate Jeremie Boga - who impressed in pre-season - on the wing although the 20-year-old lasted just 18 minutes after Cahill was shown a straight red card for a foul on Steven Defour in the 13th minute.

The defender, who was named as Chelsea captain following the departure of John Terry this summer, produced a studs-up challenge on Defour which referee Craig Pawson deemed worthy enough for a dismissal.

Conte - who did not look a happy man throughout the match - reacted by bringing on Andreas Christensen for Boga, but the change could not prevent Chelsea from conceding soon after when Vokes' volley in the 24th minute appeared to take a deflection and squeezed past Thibaut Courtois.

The goal came shortly after Burnley had had another disallowed, but Sean Dyche's men did double their advantage - this time six minutes before the break through Ward.

The Burnley defender controlled a pass with his chest before superbly getting past N'Golo Kante and smashing in a fine effort that flew past Courtois and into the far corner of the net.

With Chelsea fans left stunned in the crowd at the scoreline and, indeed, their team's rapid downfall, the visitors took advantage of the hosts' inability to compose themselves and re-group when they scored their third soon after.

Vokes was the man to extend Burnley's advantage when the forward, who was left unmarked, headed in a cross from the right in the 43rd minute.

Despite going into the break 3-0 down, 10-man Chelsea emerged a different side and, after a string of perceived injustices, substitute Morata got his first goal in a Chelsea shirt when he met Willian's cross with a diving header that flew into the back of the net with 20 minutes to go.

Chelsea thought they were back in the game when Christensen's cross found Morata, who tapped in from close range, but the Spaniard was rightly flagged as offside.

Despite Fabregas being dismissed for a second bookable offence, Luiz made it 3-2 with three minutes left although it couldn't inspire an unlikely comeback for the champions.

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