West Bromwich Albion thump champions Chelsea

Cesc Fabregas sent off as Jose Mourinho’s men are dominated at The Hawthorns

West Bromwich Albion 3 Chelsea 0

This was not the way Jose Mourinho envisaged the Premier League champions playing out the rest of the season and it will not have escaped the Chelsea manager's attention that the repercussions of a chastening night will be felt at the beginning of the next campaign.

Two goals from the impressive Saido Berahino - his 19th and 20th of the season - and another from Chris Brunt secured a memorable victory for West Bromwich Albion and inflicted Chelsea's heaviest league defeat under Mourinho since 2006, yet it was the bizarre red card that Cesc Fabregas received in the 30thminute that will rile the Portuguese more than anything else.

With Mike Jones, the referee, trying to deal with another incident during a stoppage in play, Fabregas swung his boot at the ball and caught Brunt on the side of the face. The rights and wrongs of that decision will be debated for long into the night but the bottom line is that the Spaniard was sent off and, unless Chelsea can mount a successful appeal, Fabregas will receive an automatic three-match ban, which rules him out of the first two games of next season.


It was that sort of night for Chelsea and not even the sight of Isaiah Brown, a former Albion schoolboy, making his Premier League debut for the visitors as a late substitute was going to spoil their evening. "Izzy, what's the score?" chanted the jubilant Albion fans.

There are no surprises for guessing who was at the centre of the fracas that led to Fabregas being sent off. Making his first appearance for six weeks after being out with a hamstring injury, Diego Costa was back to being Diego Costa. The Chelsea striker got involved in an off-the-ball incident with Gareth McAuley in which he appeared to push the Albion defender over, picked up a yellow card for his sins and a melee followed.

The referee was still trying to calm everyone down when Fabregas, stood on the far side of the penalty area and, at least 15 yards away from all the commotion, kicked the ball towards a group of players and struck Brunt. Albion reacted furiously, in particular Darren Fletcher, and within a matter of seconds Jones was running over to Fabregas and brandishing a straight red card.

In many respects the decision felt harsh. It was difficult to believe that Fabregas, even with his passing range, had meant to hit Brunt. Yet, at the same time, it was a stupid thing for the Spaniard to do, when he could easily have rolled the ball along the floor or left it alone altogether.

Either way, it made a mockery of the idea that this was going to be a meaningless end-of-season fixture in which both teams would be going through the motions. There was no shortage of needle to the game and it was always likely to be a matter of time before an Albion player decided to give Costa a taste of his own medicine. Jonas Olsson, all too predictably, was that player and duly picked up a yellow card.

Down to 10 men, Chelsea were also chasing the game after going behind in the ninth minute. Brunt, deployed as an attacking midfielder wide on the left, shifted the ball on to Joleon Lescott, who found Berahino in space about 25 yards from goal. The Albion striker turned and, with Gary Cahill trying in vain to close him down, hit a splendid shot that curled beyond Thibaut Courtois and into the bottom corner.

Chelsea, for whom Ruben Loftus-Cheek was granted a second successive Premier League start, had threatened only sporadically in the first half but looked particularly dangerous on the counter-attack. Eden Hazard, set up by Costa, saw his left-footed shot from the corner of the six-yard box deflected over while later in the half Filipe Luis thumped a powerful 25-yard free-kick that almost knocked Boaz Myhill over. At the other end of the pitch, Brunt came close to adding a second. Set free by James Morrison, the Northern Ireland international broke into the Chelsea area but his low shot was repelled by Courtois.

The evening got worse for Chelsea in the second minute of the second half when Terry scythed down Berahino, leaving Jones with no option but to point to the spot. Courtois guessed the right way, and got his hand to the ball, but Berahino’s kick was too close to the corner and Albion had doubled their lead.

Although Loic Remy struck the base of the post after wriggling clear on the edge of the penalty area, Albion were in dreamland in the 60th minute. Brunt played a short corner with CraigGardner and from just inside the penalty area unleashed a powerful shot that seemed to beat Courtois for pace as it flew inside his near post.

(Guardian service)