- Jorginho gives Chelsea first-half lead from the penalty spot
- Albion deservedly hit back through Leo Trossard ten minutes into second half
- Reece James quickly restores Chelsea’s lead and Kurt Zouma scores third
- Seagulls back in action on Sunday at Newcastle United
Albion could consider themselves slightly hard done by after suffering an opening-day defeat to Chelsea at the Amex.
Graham Potter’s men more than matched a Chelsea side who finished fourth last season and whose new £75m summer signing Kai Havertz cost more than the entire Albion team.
Leo Trossard’s 55th-minute equaliser, after Jorginho had put Chelsea ahead with a first-half penalty, was thoroughly merited, but within a minute Reece James had slammed an unstoppable shot into the top right-hand corner to restore Chelsea’s lead.
Kurt Zouma made it 3-1 when his shot took a heavy deflection off Adam Webster but that came a few minutes after Lewis Dunk had missed a wonderful chance at the far post by directing his header wide.
But there was a lot to admire in Albion’s performance, although the loss of Adam Lallana on the stroke of half-time to injury was a worrying setback.
Potter handed Lallana and Ben White their debuts while Alireza Jahanbakhsh, whose stunning overhead kick earned the Seagulls a 1-1 draw when Chelsea visited on New Year’s Day, was among the substitutes. Chelsea gave debuts to Timo Werner and Havertz.
Albion began brightly and Webster epitomised their confident start when he strode forward to let fly from 25 yards, although his shot was never troubling the Chelsea goal.
Potter’s men moved the ball quickly with Tariq Lamptey producing some trademark bursts down the right to keep Chelsea on their toes but a good opening 22 minutes was undone when Chelsea went in front.
Steven Alzate was dispossessed in midfield and Jorginho moved the ball quickly to Werner, who rounded Maty Ryan and went to ground in the box. The contact was only slight but enough, after a VAR check, for referee Craig Pawson to award a penalty which Jorginho drilled into the bottom left corner as Ryan dived the other way.
Undeterred, Albion should have been level four minutes later. Lallana found Lamptey making a surge down the right and his superb cross should have been buried by Neal Maupay, but the ball made contact with his shoulder rather than his head and Kepa Arizzabalaga had little trouble in saving his effort.
Alzate nearly made amends for his earlier error, forcing Arizzabalaga to save his shot from the edge of the box at full stretch then Lallana drove forward, found Maupay but he took too many touches and Chelsea cleared.
Despite trailing at the break, it had been an encouraging first half for the Seagulls although it ended with Lallana coming off with what looked like a hamstring injury. Leo Trossard switched to the right of midfield with Aaron Connolly going in attack.
Albion started the second half on the front foot with Lamptey once again a productive outlet. One surging run into the box ended with a cross which poleaxed Zouma and it was no surprise when Albion levelled and that the excellent Lamptey was involved. He found Trossard in space 22 yards out and the Belgian hit a left-foot shot into the far corner.
Game on, but Albion joy was extinguished within moments. James sized up his options 25 yards out, took a stride forward and thumped a right-foot shot high into the top corner with Ryan helpless.
The hosts had to come back again and the chance to score a second equaliser came on 59 minutes. Trossard picked out Dunk with a lovely diagonal ball to the far post but instead of making the net bulge with his header, Albion’s captain found the side netting instead.
Albion continued to press but they must have known it wasn’t going to be their night when Chelsea extended their lead in the 66th minute. James’ corner was half-cleared to Zouma whose shot on the turn from 15 yards hit Webster’s outstretched leg and diverted it past a helpless Ryan.
It left Albion with too much to do but they continued to plug away, although it needed a great sliding block by White to prevent Werner from scoring with an angled effort, injuring himself in the process.
A fourth Chelsea goal would have been extremely harsh. Albion more than played their part in an entertaining game but the small margins went Chelsea’s way.
Albion: Ryan, Lamptey, White (Gross 79), Dunk, Webster, March, Bissouma, Lallana (Connolly 45), Alzate (Jahanbakhsh 79), Trossard, Maupay. Unused subs: Steele, Stephens, Burn, Veltman.
To download tonight's official team sheet click here