London (AFP) – Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was sent off as Chelsea began their Premier League title defence with an engrossing 2-2 draw at home to an excellent Swansea City side on Saturday.
Jose Mourinho’s men were leading 2-1 at Stamford Bridge when Courtois was dismissed for fouling Bafetimbi Gomis right on the edge of his area in the 52nd minute and the French striker scored the equaliser from the spot.
It was another impressive opening-day display by Garry Monk’s Swansea, who won 2-1 at Manchester United a year ago, and added weight to Mourinho’s prediction that Chelsea will face a fight to retain their title.
“The team was playing very, very well in the first half,” said Mourinho. “In the second, in one minute, it was a penalty, red card and the goal — 2-2.
“I would say we were the best team with 11 players and with 10 we fought hard, some fighting at the limit of their condition.”
With Diego Costa overcoming hamstring trouble to start, Chelsea weathered a bright start by Swansea and went ahead in the 23rd minute when Oscar’s free-kick from wide on the left curled straight in.
Swansea debutant Andre Ayew equalised six minutes later, finishing smartly after an initial attempt had been blocked, only for Chelsea to regain the lead when Willian’s cross deflected off Federico Fernandez and looped over visiting goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski for a cruel own goal.
But after Swansea midfielder Jonjo Shelvey had hit the post from a corner, Courtois was sent off for felling Gomis and the former Saint-Etienne frontman beat Asmir Begovic from the spot to equalise.
“Today for 90 minutes we were excellent,” Swansea manager Monk, whose side finished eighth last season, told Sky Sports.
“I said to the players, if you believe in what we’re doing, we can come to places like this and create enough chances to win the game.”