Premier League champions, Chelsea, were humbled by West Bromwich Albion in their Premier League clash at the Hawthorns, with Cesc Fabregas seeing red on the half-hour mark as the Blues succumbed to a 3-0 defeat.
The hosts were quickest off the starting blocks as Callum McManaman picked up the ball inside the opposition box in the fifth minute and flashed a low shot towards goal that was deflected wide by the knees of Thibaut Courtois.
Chelsea countered through Fabregas, who weaved into the box before forcing a save from Boaz Myhill from inside the penalty area.
But West Brom struck first blood in the ninth minute through Saido Berahino’s vicious long-range drive into the top corner.
The visitors set about trying to find an equaliser and were soon on top in terms of play and possession, although Craig Dawson nearly made them pay when he nutmegged Nemanja Matic then Filipe Luis before seeing his effort blocked for a corner.
Eden Hazard then stung Myhill’s palms with a vicious shot before both sets of players clashed in the penalty area, leading to a booking for Diego Costa for a clash with Gareth McAuley.
There was to be yet more drama as Fabregas kicked the ball into the crowd of players from about 20 yards out and struck Chris Brunt, an action which saw the ex-Arsenal midfielder shown a straight red card.
West Brom were hungry for more goals as they continued to push forward, but the Premier League champions reacted well to going a man down and matched their opponents right until the half-time whistle.
Despite the hopeful signs just before the break, Jose Mourinho’s charges got off to the worst possible start in the second half when John Terry took Berahino out in the box, prompting the referee to award the Baggies a penalty.
Opting to take the penalty himself, the England striker stepped up to the spot and fired a low shot towards the bottom corner, and despite Courtois getting his fingers to the ball, he couldn’t stop it from trickling into the net.
To their credit, Chelsea never stopped trying and came within a whisker of halving the deficit in the 56th minute when Loic Remy wriggled clear of the West Brom defence before shooting low against the post from 20 yards.
Just as it seemed like the Blues could possibly conjure up a revival, they were undone again on the hour mark, conceding a third goal when Brunt played a one-two with James Morrison and lashed home from outside the box.
An embarrassed Chelsea, intent on saving face, continued to probe forward as a ball was flicked to a well-positioned Nemanja Matic in the box, but his volley was kept out by Myhill from point-blank range.