LONDON: Jose Mourinho did not smile but his words alone demonstrated his relief and pleasure after Chelsea, finally and at third attempt, secured the first victory of their Premier League title defence.
Chelsea won 3-2 at West Bromwich with a starring debut from Pedro, who scored one goal and made another, and despite the sending-off of captain John Terry midway through the second half.
No talk this time from Mourinho about his medical staff or his own failings or out-of-form players or injuries. He said: “We played very well. I’m happy. It was a fantastic performance. When we had the ball we were always dangerous and the three goals was short for the chances we created and the football we played.
“With men the spirit, the organisation, the fight in defensive areas and the intelligence to keep the ball was a great effort.”
But football at this level depends on such fractional margins. Mourinho’s men benefited from a fortunate early escape after Nemanja Matic tripped Callum McManaman to concede an early penalty. Thibaut Courtois dived the wrong way but James Morrison’s kick ricocheted over the bar off the keeper’s trailing leg.
Dawson headed over the bar in Albion’s next raid but in the 20th minute Chelsea capitalised on their all-round good fortune to take the lead.
Pedro, making an immediate start after his arrival from Barcelona, cut in from wide on the right, exchanged passes with Eden Hazard and then saw his low shot take a defender’s deflection on its way into goal.
Ten minutes later Willian found Pedro in acres of space and his cross-shot was turned into Chelsea’s second goal by Diego Costa.
Morrison made amends for his penalty miss by pulling one back for Albion after 36 minutes but Chelsea regained their two-goal advantage through Cesar Azpilicueta six minutes later.
Albion bounced back at the start of the second half. Salomon Rondon raced for goal and was tugged back by John Terry. The foul was just outside the penalty box but Chelsea’s captain was the last man and referee Mark Clattenburg’s red card was inevitable.
The expulsion was the worst possible to a bad week for Terry who had been substituted by Mourinho for the first time the previous weekend. Albion punished Chelsea with an immediate second goal from Morrison but that was all they could manage.
Mourinho was happy, too, with man of the match Pedro, saying: “We have had a lot of examples of players who come to the Premier League and take time to adapt but he was immediately in the game. He played well.”
Later Manchester City became the only team with a 100pc record after three games after the leaders won 2-0 at Everton.
An angled shot on the hour from Aleksander Kolarov and a late finish from Samir Nasri provided the goals. City have scored eight goals, through seven different players, and Joe Hart remains unbeaten in goal.
City have won nine league game in succession – six last season, three this term – for the first time since 1912.
Promoted Watford and Southampton drew 0-0 at Vicarage Road.