Chelsea dropped some $260 million to sign some of the most sought-after players in Europe his summer, but it was a local product who joined the London club as a six-year-old who scored the game-winning goal in the Blues’ 3-1 victory against Brighton and Hove Albion Monday in the season-opening Premier League match for both teams.
Defender Reece James broke a 1-1 deadlock in the second half of Monday’s contest at American Express Community Stadium. Not only did the 20-year-old right back’s wicked shot into the top corner stand up as the game-winner, it also marked his first career goal in the Prem:
James’ strike came just 98 seconds after the Seagulls had scored a deserved equalizer from Leandro Trossard, who beat under-pressure Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga with a bouncing shot from distance. The visitors would add the backbreaking third goal, by another unlikely scorer in center back Kurt Zouma, 10 minutes later off a defensive error by the hosts:
High-priced recruits Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, lured from Bundesliga clubs RB Leipzig and Bayern Leverkusen for a combined $154 million, started the match but were relatively quiet as they adjust to life within manager Frank Lampard’s squad. Werner was involved in Chelsea’s opening goal, however.
The German striker was hauled down by Brighton backstop Mathew Ryan after teammate Steven Alzate gave away the ball deep in the home team’s end. Blues midfielder Jorginho, who had played the pass to Werner before the foul, stepped up to convert the penalty, keeping his 100-percent record from the spot for the Blues intact.
Several of Lampard’s other newcomers weren’t involved; right back Ben Chilwell (ankle), winger Hakim Ziyech (knee) and veteran central defender Thigao Silva and weren’t even on Chelsea’s bench. Neither was American talisman Christian Pulisic, who apparently has recovered from the hamstring injury he suffered in last month’s FA Cup final loss to Arsenal but is still lacking match fitness.
It remains to be seen if any or all of those players will be ready to go for next week’s high-profile trip to champions Liverpool. Either way, Monday’s result was a welcome one for Lampard and Co., who began last season with an embarrassing 4-0 loss to Manchester United.
The second-year coach might not be as happy about the performance. But then it was always going to take Havertz, Werner and the rest time to settle in with the Stamford Bridge side. His team is only going to get better and more cohesive as the campaign wears on.
In the meantime, a season-opening three points earned on the strength of goals from the members of the supporting cast bodes well for what’s possible for Chelsea the rest of the way.
More from Yahoo Sports: