Sports Desk, Oct 16 (EFE).- Chelsea vaulted to first place in the Premier League with a hard-fought 1-0 win Saturday against promoted Brentford.
The Blues took the lead just before the break and survived a ferocious charge by the Bees in the second half to improve to 19 points, 1 ahead of Liverpool and 2 better than defending champions Manchester City.
Brentford are seventh on 12 points.
Facing a London derby for the fourth time in their first season back in the English top-flight since 1947, the Bees did not play like a side that would be content with a draw.
The first chance of the evening was created by Brentford and only the post stopped Bryan Mbeumo from putting the home side up in the 22nd minute.
Seconds later, Romelu Lukaku scored for Chelsea at the other end, but the goal was disallowed because the Belgian was offside.
The teams seemed poised to end the half deadlocked at 0-0 until Ben Chilwell made it 1-0 for Chelsea with a brilliant strike.
With the Blues unable to get a second goal, Brentford poured on the pressure in the final 20 minutes. Mbeumo was again thwarted by the post, while Ivan Toney, Saman Ghoddos, Pontus Jansson and Christian Norgaard all tested Edouard Mendy.
The Chelsea goalkeeper’s finest moment came in the 93rd minute as he did just enough to tip Norgaard’s impressive overhead strike over the cross-bar.
With the victory, Chelsea went above Man City, 2-0 winners against Burnley, and Liverpool, who thrashed Watford 5-0 in the day’s first match.
Starting goalkeeper Ederson and striker Gabriel Jesus were not available for the contest at the Etihad because they played for Brazil Thursday night in a World Cup qualifier.
Against the 19th-place Clarets, City coach Pep Guardiola also took the opportunity to rest several other starters, including Jack Grealish and Kyle Walker, while picking Raheem Sterling for the 11 a day after publicly telling the forward he was free to seek a transfer if he was unhappy about a lack of playing time.
The hosts went ahead in the 12th minute, when Bernardo Silva scored off the rebound after Burnley keeper Nick Pope turned aside Phil Foden’s strike.
Silva’s goal remained the only thing separating the sides until Kevin de Bruyne beat Pope in the 70th minute. EFE msg/dr