ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
West Brom 2
LONDON • The good news for Chelsea is that the defence of their title is up and running with a first victory of the season and that Pedro, on this evidence, will light up the Premier League with his presence.
The bad news for Jose Mourinho to digest is that the champions continue to look vulnerable at the back, with John Terry following his humiliating half-time substitution at Manchester City last Sunday by getting sent off yesterday at the Hawthorns.
Terry's dismissal, early in the second half, changed the complexion of a breathless game that Chelsea seemed to have tied up when Cesar Azpilicueta, with his first Premier League goal, put the visitors 3-1 up just before half-time.
Mark Clattenburg's decision appeared a little harsh at first glance.
But there was no escaping the fact that Terry was exposed or that he made contact with Salomon Rondon as Albion's record signing was bearing down on goal.
When James Morrison - who had a penalty saved by Thibaut Courtois when the match was goalless - scored his second of the afternoon shortly after the Blues were reduced to 10 men, it was tempting to wonder whether a stadium that has been a graveyard for Chelsea managers in recent years might provide another rude awakening.
Both Roberto di Matteo and Andre Villas-Boas lost their jobs after defeats at West Brom.
However, Mourinho's men held on for a crucial first victory of the embryonic season.
"When we had the ball, we were always dangerous," said Mourinho. "With 10 men, we had the spirit and organisation and the intelligence to keep the ball. I am happy."
It was a win that also highlighted what a shrewd piece of business it was to sign Pedro from under Manchester United's noses.
He marked his debut on Chelsea's right flank with a man-of-the-match performance: A goal following a one-two with Eden Hazard to put Chelsea ahead, an assist for Diego Costa's first goal of the season and a host of chances he created.
"I enjoyed my debut a lot with this team. I'm very happy for the victory," Pedro told Sky Sports.
Asked if it had been important to score, he replied: "It's important for me, for my integration in the team. I'm very happy."
Cesc Fabregas, who plays alongside Pedro for Spain and was a former team-mate of his at Barcelona, said he was not surprised to see the 28-year-old could have such an influence in England.
"I knew straight away he would make an impact in this team," said the midfielder.
"It was something that we basically didn't have in our team, this pacy player that goes behind defenders, can dribble, goes one against one.
"He goes behind defenders, stretches teams. In the side, we have Diego, we have (Loic) Remy that does that, but on the wings, Willian, Eden (Hazard), they like more the ball at their feet."
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE