Brighton's English midfielder Adam Lallana (L) competes with Chelsea's German striker Timo Werner during the match on Monday
Brighton's English midfielder Adam Lallana (L) competes with Chelsea's German striker Timo Werner during the match on Monday
AFP

Brighton

Reece James's superb second-half strike crowned an impressive 3-1 win for Chelsea against Brighton & Hove Albion at Amex Stadium.

Jorginho fired the Blues ahead with a 23rd-minute penalty after debutant Timo Werner had been fouled by goalkeeper Mat Ryan.

After Neal Maupay had spurned a good chance to level from Tariq Lamptey's inch-perfect cross, the Seagulls did equalise on 54 minutes with a fine left-foot finish from Leandro Trossard.

But their joy was short-lived as James restored Chelsea's advantage only two minutes later with a thumping 20-yard shot into the top corner for his first Premier League goal.

Lewis Dunk squandered a glorious opportunity to level when, unmarked at the back post, he failed to get a decent connection on Trossard's inviting cross.

And Chelsea made the points safe on 66 minutes when James delivered a corner that Kurt Zouma turned in with the help of a deflection.

A Chelsea team featuring just two of its slew of high-profile and expensive signings got off to a winning start.

Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, signed for a combined $160 million, didn't manage to score at Amex Stadium, either, with Chelsea's goals coming from Jorginho, Reece James and Kurt Zouma.

James' was the most spectacular and the most crucial, the right back's swerving piledriver from 30 meters regaining the lead for Chelsea at 2-1 in the 56th minute, just two minutes after Brighton equalised through Leandro Trossard.

Zouma's deflected volley from a corner in the 66th then gave Chelsea some breathing space.

"I thought we were OK," Chelsea manager Frank Lampard said. "I liked the work ethic and discipline of the team.

"We have been together for four days. ... To expect everything to click on day one would have been difficult."

While Havertz was fairly ineffective in his position on the right of midfield, fellow Germany international Werner - the lone striker - was more impressive and earned the penalty that was converted by Jorginho to break the deadlock in the 21st minute.

Brighton midfielder Steven Alzate lost possession in central midfield as the hosts tried to play the ball out from the back, Werner was played through and was brought down by goalkeeper Mat Ryan. Jorginho sent Ryan the wrong way.

Much-criticised goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga was handed a start by Chelsea manager Frank Lampard but his failure to keep out Trossard's 54th-minute shot from outside the area will likely keep the scrutiny on him. Kepa seemed slow to get down as the ball squirmed beyond his outstretched right hand.

James quickly put Chelsea back in front with a stunning strike that flew into the roof of the net, and the right back sent in the corner that Zouma met with a volley that ricocheted in off Brighton defender Adam Webster's right foot.

Of Chelsea's other offseason signings that combined to cost $250 million, left back Ben Chilwell and playmaker Hakim Ziyech were injured and center back Thiago Silva wasn't ready after only recently joining up with the squad.

"The players are still working each other out a little bit," Lampard said. "Today we weren't as fluid as we could be .. I want us to have a lot more movement up front than we did today."

Wolves also enjoyed a winning start to the season after they clinched a 2-0 win at Sheffield United in an early-evening kick-off.

Raul Jimenez and Romain Saiss scored the goals for the visitors inside the first six minutes to give Nuno Espirito Santo a win 24 hours after he signed a new three-year deal as manager.

"It has been an amazing three seasons," the manager said.

"I think we create something really special - the identity, the core of the squad, the bonds between us, this is how we operate but we have to stay humble.

"Now I have to prepare the next training session because we play Stoke in the League Cup. We go day by day."

United manager Chris Wilder was asked if he thought his team might face a battle for survival this season.

"I wish I had a pound for everyone who's said that," he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"There are 37 games to go. Whatever. Words and statements like there were last year come at us thick and fast if we lose a game.

"If we win a game we're the best thing since sliced bread; if you lose it's second-season syndrome - that's the coverage the Premier League gets."

Number game

Brighton and Hove Albion Chelsea

52.3 Posession 47.7

03 Shots on target 05

04 Corners 03

00 Offsides 03

01 Yellow cards 00

08 Fouls 13

(To download our E-paper please click here. The publishers permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal

www.freepressjournal.in