West Brom vs Chelsea match report: Pedro enjoys dream debut as John Terry's dismal season continues with red card

West Brom 2 Chelsea 3

Click to follow
The Independent Football

His has been a career that has survived injury, scandal, Rafa Benitez and the limitless funds Chelsea have had to replace him over the last 12 years, so it would be unwise to write off John Terry as a footballer whose career should be talked about in the past tense anytime soon. He has proved to be the most durable of modern players but no-one could deny it has been a rough eight days.

Substituted at half-time against Manchester City last week, sent off against West Bromwich Albion today, he might be forgiven for thinking that someone is trying to tell him something. In the past he has ignored the voices that have told him he is too old or too slow to play this crazy game any longer and as the seasons have ticked on, he has been vindicated every time.

Even so, the ego will be hurting after this game, one in which he was sent off for bringing down Salomon Rondon, West Brom’s £12m man, as they ran towards goal together just before the hour. Tony Pulis said it was “harsh”. Jose Mourinho insisted that to discuss it would involve a whole wider thesis on the game itself and he was just not going to go there. For Terry it will mean more time out of the team, a possible appeal notwithstanding.

That was the human drama on a marvellous afternoon of five goals, a missed penalty, an absentee striker and a sparkling debut from Chelsea’s new £21.1m signing Pedro Rodriguez. The absentee was Saido Berahino who would now seem to be on his way out of West Brom this coming week although all Pulis would do was rage against a transfer window that does not close when the season begins.

It was a lot of entertainment from start to finish, with Chelsea hanging on for more than half an hour with ten men and Mourinho finishing the game by shouting into the microphone in his technical area. A strange way to end a frenetic afternoon in which everyone seemed to be feeling the stress as Chelsea fought their way to their first win of the season.

For Pulis, who was without Berahino in his matchday squad, it was a difficult result to take given how well his side played at times. He could blame James Morrison for a first half penalty that Thibaut Courtois saved but not too much because the Scot scored his team’s two goals. Calum McManaman continued Branislav Ivanovic’s difficult start to the season and Rondon was excellent as the sharp end of the home team’s attack.

Yet Chelsea are made of tough stuff and you could imagine that they were unwilling to have to face their manager at the end of the game without the three points. Mourinho projected the usual wronged-man schtick at the end of the game over his side’s second red card of the new season, but he could not conceal his relief that his players, even without Terry, had closed out the victory.

Pedro was as good as Manchester United must have feared he would be with a goal and an assist in the first half, and so much faith from Mourinho that he did not even substitute the winger in the post-red card reorganisation. Diego Costa scored his first of the season, and looked much more effective while not neglecting his quest to fight the world. Cesar Azpilicueta scored his first Premier League goal for the club.

Even so, the cracks are there in Chelsea and never more so than when they conceded a penalty on 13 minutes. There was a slight, indignant shake of the head from Mourinho on the touchline, but Mark Clattenburg had been right about this one and Nemanja Matic, who had thrust out a tired leg, did not bother with a protest.

McManaman was excellent, making the second goal as well and he might have been a better bet to take the penalty given his strong start. Morrison chose to strike it down the centre of the goal. Although Thibaut Courtois had already committed to his left, a leg thrust in the direction he had come from flicked the ball over the bar.

Chelsea had been on the rack for the first 20 minutes and then Pedro changed the game. He had demanded the ball at every opportunity throughout the first half and his goal came after an exchange of passes with Eden Hazard before he hit a shot that clipped off Jonas Olsson and went in.

If the Black Country summer rain and the close proximity of opposition players he may never have heard of before this afternoon were disquieting for Pedro, he did not show it.  On 30 minutes it was his low ball across the face of the goal that Costa slid in to force over the line. It had begun with a fine ball from Ivanovic up to Willian. “Chelsea are back” sung the away fans, and in part it did look that way.

Except in defence, and in defensive midfield, where they continued to look like they were one misstep away from calamity. Kurt Zouma fell over in possession. Cesc Fabregas passed the ball carelessly. Rondon managed to hook back James McClean’s cross on 35 minutes for Morrison to finish sharply.

Again, West Brom had demonstrated that there were weaknesses in this Chelsea team but they could not press home their point. Azpilicueta scored the third when the ball bounced loose from what looked like a foul by Craig Dawson on Costa on 42 minutes.

Terry was sent off nine minutes into the second half for the denial of an obvious goalscoring opportunity, in this case a sharp pull down on the arm of Rondon as they chased the ball back towards the Chelsea goal. It was a close call but it looked like Rondon was just about to get to the ball before Courtois. Cue the usual indignation from Chelsea, and another extraordinary twist in the tale.

Five minutes later a back header from Morrison, made by McManaman who crossed from the left, gave West Brom their second goal of the game and Chelsea were under pressure.

This was all good stuff, and really it was in the next ten minutes that the two best chances came for West Brom to equalise through Rondon and then McManaman. At the other end Radamel Falcao replaced Costa and missed a good chance presented by Pedro’s ball in. Chelsea had come up with an answer to their current problems, but the solution still feels temporary at best.

West Bromwich Albion (4-1-4-1): Myhill; Dawson, McAuley, Olsson, Brunt; Yacob; McManaman, Fletcher, Morrison (Gardner, 88), McClean (Lambert, 60); Rondon.

Substitutes not used: Rose (gk), Chester, Lescott, Anichebe, Gnabry.

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Courtois; Ivanovic, Zouma, Terry, Azpilicueta; Fabregas, Matic; Pedro (Mikel, 84), Willian (Cahill, 56), Hazard; Costa (Falcao, 77).

Substitutes not used: Begovic (gk), Traore, Remy, Loftus-Cheek.

Booked: West Brom McClean, Olsson, McManaman Chelsea Matic

Sent off: Terry

Referee: M Clattenburg              

Man of the match: Pedro