10:08pm Monday 18th August 2014
© Press Association 2014
Chelsea started the season with a bang as they mercilessly swept Burnley aside with a 3-1 win at Turf Moor.
Burnley fans started dreaming of a shock win when Scott Arfield fired past Thibaut Courtois in the 14th minute, but Chelsea quickly put a dampener on the Premier League newcomers' party.
Diego Costa marked his debut with a poacher's strike to equalise and Andre Schurrle then finished off a sublime 25-pass move to put Jose Mourinho's men ahead.
Costa thought he should have had a penalty when he raced through on goal, but he was booked for diving despite having his heels clipped by Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton.
Mourinho was unhappy with the decision, but in the end it counted for little as Branislav Ivanovic made it 3-1 and Chelsea strolled on to victory.
On this performance, it is easy to see why Chelsea are favourites to win the league.
The Blues will come up against tougher teams this season, but the way in which they took Burnley's defence apart in the first half will have given their title rivals food for thought.
Cesc Fabregas, somehow overlooked by Arsenal and Manchester United this summer, slotted perfectly into the Chelsea midfield while Eden Hazard and Schurrle cut through the home defence with ease.
Courtois would be disappointed with his failure to stop Arfield's goal, but otherwise he put in an assured debut performance, which suggested he is up to the task of replacing Petr Cech, who was named on the bench.
And in Costa, Chelsea look to have the "killer" striker Mourinho lacked last year.
A wave of noise greeted Sean Dyche and his men as they emerged from the tunnel to signal the start of an exciting new dawn at Turf Moor.
The hosts nearly went behind within three minutes though. Kieran Trippier's nerves got the better of him as his misplaced pass went straight to Costa. The striker laid the ball off to Schurrle, whose deflected shot drifted just a few inches wide.
The relieved home fans roared their team on, before Lukas Jutkiewicz spurned a good chance to test Courtois as he drilled into the side-netting from inside the box.
The decibel levels rocketed in the 13th minute when Arfield beat the new Chelsea number one.
Chelsea's back four were slow clearing the box from a corner and Matt Taylor, played onside by John Terry, found Arfield just inside the box.
The unmarked midfielder, released by Huddersfield two years ago, blasted a sweet volley past Courtois, who froze as the ball flew past his right ear.
The stands rocked as Burnley started to believe an upset was possible, b ut three minutes later Chelsea were level.
Ivanovic latched on to a Fabregas backheel and flashed a low cross from the right that took a touch off defender Jason Shackell and hit the far post. Luckily for Chelsea, Costa was there to sweep the ball in through Michael Duff's legs.
The Blues then took the lead with a sublime goal that came after a stunning passing move.
Hazard surged deep inside the Burnley half, beating three defenders before laying the ball off to Ivanovic. The Serbian then found Fabregas, whose perfectly weighted pass was converted first time by Schurrle.
Hazard may have failed to light up the World Cup, but his star was shining bright on this chilly night in east Lancashire.
The Belgian slalomed through the Burnley defence and lofted a ball over Heaton, but Costa could not get on the end of it.
The Spain forward was sharp enough to pick up on Ben Mee's careless back pass a few minutes later, but he hit the deck after Heaton raced off his line to challenge him.
Replays showed the Burnley goalkeeper clipped Costa's trailing leg, but referee Michael Oliver booked the striker for diving.
Mourinho, clearly unhappy with the decision, aired his grievances with fourth official Mike Dean, but t he Chelsea manager was a happy soul in the 33rd minute as Chelsea found the net again.
Despite the best efforts of a paper plane enthusiast, Fabregas floated a peach of a corner straight to the right foot of Ivanovic, who prodded the ball home after surging through the box ahead of his marker.
With Fabregas, Hazard and Oscar in midfield, Chelsea had no problem playing keep-ball until half-time.
After the break, Burnley threw everything they had at the visitors.
Gary Cahill's clearance landed straight at Arfield's feet, but the Scot's curling shot was superbly saved by Courtois.
Dyche brought on Ashley Barnes and Michael Kightly as he tried to engineer a way back into the game.
Schurrle received a standing ovation as he was replaced by Willian, and Didier Drogba came on for an eight-minute cameo. The Ivorian, back for another spell with Chelsea, almost made it a second debut to remember when he took down Courtois' long ball and fired a volley towards goal, but it swerved wide.
It did not matter, though. The game had been won long before.
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