Enzo Fernandez and Levi Colwill’s opening goals in the Chelsea Premier League gave the 10-man home team a 3-2 victory against Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday at a sodden Stamford Bridge due to rain.
After captain Conor Gallagher received two yellow cards, Chelsea played the entire second half with one player down, but Argentine Fernandez, the World Cup winner, scored a goal in either half to keep them ahead.
The 17th minute saw Fernandez, who had only scored once before in the League Cup, head in a superb overhead kick from defender Benoit Badiashile.
Four minutes later, Colwill—who spent last season on loan at Brighton—made it two thanks to a headed assist from Nicolas Jackson. Despite it being his first senior goal for his team, the former Chelsea junior declined to celebrate in front of the departing supporters.
Chelsea appeared to be winning easily, but Facundo Buonanotte’s looping shot two minutes before halftime gave Brighton a response.
Referee Craig Pawson then ejected Gallagher as he slid in on Billy Gilmour, a former teammate at Chelsea.
In an attempt to capitalise on their advantage, Brighton pressed Chelsea hard in the second half, but Mykhailo Mudryk was hauled down by substitute James Milner after he was unable to keep up with him on the attack.
In the 65th minute, Fernandez scored his second goal from the penalty spot following a six-minute stoppage for a VAR inspection.
After intense pressure from the opposing team, Joao Pedro of Brighton secured a nerve-wracking finish in time added on with a looping header in the 92nd minute.
For the last, frenzied ten minutes, they barraged Chelsea’s goal, and Chelsea can thank Robert Sanchez for keeping the score close.
In normal time, the Spanish custodian denied Pascal Gross three good opportunities, and in the 99th minute, he also stopped an effort from Joao Pedro.
When Chelsea defended desperately, with every player behind the ball, Pawson signalled a penalty for a handball by Colwill. This final twist in the tale drove Pawson to the VAR monitor a second time.
The call was reversed as the replays revealed the Chelsea player had been struck by the ball in the face rather than the arm.
Chelsea, coached by Mauricio Pochettino, moved up to 10th place in the standings as a result, three points behind Brighton in eighth.