Frank Lampard’s expensively reshaped Chelsea made a winning start to their Premier League campaign with victory at Brighton.
Timo Werner, signed from RB Leipzig, and his Germany team-mate Kai Havertz, brought in from Bayer Leverkusen, made their debuts in a Chelsea side who had to work hard for their win.
Werner was pacy and prominent, winning a 23rd-minute penalty when he was hauled down by Brighton keeper Mat Ryan, Jorginho scoring the resulting spot-kick.
Brighton lost summer signing Adam Lallana to injury before the break but were back on level terms after 54 minutes when Leandro Trossard’s 20-yard shot squirmed its way past Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Chelsea regained their lead two minutes later when Reece James ripped a 25-yard right-foot shot high past Ryan.
Brighton should have equalised when Lewis Dunk somehow headed wide at the far post, paying the price for the miss when Kurt Zouma’s shot was deflected past Ryan by Adam Webster.
Chelsea boss Lampard will be delighted to leave Brighton win three points after what was a mixed performance, perhaps understandable for the first Premier League outing of the season.
Lampard got what he wanted, apart from a debut goal, from Werner as he was a constant menace, always on the move and looking to use his speed to get behind the Brighton defence. He had no trouble adjusting to the tempo of the Premier League and there seems little doubt goals will come.
Havertz was a more low-key presence on the right side of midfield in front of James but he worked hard in his 79 minutes and drew warm applause from Lampard for one lengthy recovery run back into his own penalty area to clear danger.
Chelsea were without injured left-back Ben Chilwell, signed for £50m from Leicester City, and Thiago Silva as he has only just joined training and Lampard will be keen to get that influential duo into a defence that still looks vulnerable.
Tariq Lamptey’s crosses caused trouble all night and Chelsea were grateful for that headed miss by Dunk at the far post when it looked easier to score.
And once again there were questions over keeper Kepa, who got close to Trossard’s shot but allowed it to creep in.
It seems his time is running out as Chelsea’s first-choice goalkeeper, with the £20m signing of Rennes’ Edouard Mendy apparently imminent.
Brighton can take some satisfaction through the pain of a defeat that will leave manager Graham Potter bitterly frustrated.
The Seagulls acquitted themselves very well and had the game’s outstanding performer in former Chelsea right-back Lamptey, who was industrious and creative in a top-class display.
And the momentum appeared to be with Brighton when Trossard scored a deserved equaliser – only for them to concede a second within two minutes from James’ thunderous finish.
Brighton then wasted the best chance of the game when Dunk headed wide and were unable to recover as Chelsea re-established a two-goal lead.
This was, however, a very respectable performance. On the down side, Potter is facing the issue he must have feared when he signed Lallana from Liverpool.
Lallana is a great asset when fit – but therein lies the problem. He did not last the first half and has now failed to play 90 minutes in the Premier League since he faced Middlesbrough for Liverpool in May 2017.