Cesc Fabregas’s bizarre red card capped a wretched night for Chelsea as the champions were shocked 3-0 by West Brom.
Saido Berahino’s double ended his own nine-game drought as he made it 20 goals for the season for the Baggies and Chris Brunt added a third to compound Chelsea’s miserable as their 16-game unbeaten league run ended.
Fabregas’ first-half dismissal will go down as one of the most mindless in the history of the Premier League. The midfielder saw red after kicking the ball against the side of Brunt’s head as referee Mike Jones took control of a clash between Gareth McAuley and Diego Costa.
The champions were afforded a guard of honour as they came onto the pitch but the well-drilled Baggies refused to stand on ceremony to claim a deserved win.
Chelsea rarely threatened, even before Fabregas walked, although Loic Remy hit the post in the second half.
Callum McManaman nearly fired Albion into a fifth-minute lead when he ghosted past Filipe Luis, only for Thibaut Courtois’s excellent reaction stop to deny him a first goal for the club.
Boaz Myhill then claimed Fabregas’s shot after the midfielder had wriggled through, before the Baggies took the lead in spectacular style in the ninth minute.
Berahino received the ball 25 yards out and allowed it to roll across him before arching a first-time drive into the bottom corner.
Matic drilled wide in reply but the organised Baggies comfortably kept Chelsea at bay, with the flat atmosphere underlining the lack of importance of the game.
But a routine night suddenly flared up in curious fashion when Costa and McAuley grappled in the area, and the Chelsea was striker booked after the pair squared up to each other.
While referee Jones was calming the situation, Fabregas – from 20 yards away – kicked the ball towards the group and against the side of Brunt’s head. Darren Fletcher then squared up to the midfielder before Fabregas was sent off, his first red card since January 2006.
It was a stupid act by the former Barcelona star, but gave the game much-needed bite. Fletcher was booked for his part in the incident.
Courtois denied Brunt after Berahino’s quick break and Myhill saved Luis’s free kick after Jonas Olsson chopped Costa.
Chelsea were 2-0 behind before they could blink after the break. Just 26 seconds in, John Terry scythed down Berahino in the area and the striker beat Courtois from the spot.
Remy thumped the post from 20 yards, but it was only a brief threat by the visitors and Brunt sealed Albion’s victory on the hour. Chelsea switched off from a short corner and the midfielder was allowed to run into the box and lash past Courtois at his near post. Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho looked on disgusted and his mood failed to improve when Myhill saved well from Matic with 17 minutes left.
The quiet Eden Hazard fired over late on as Chelsea slipped to just their third league defeat of the season.
Scorers: West Brom - Berahino (9, 47pen), Brunt (60)
West Brom: Myhill, Dawson, McAuley, Olsson, Lescott, Fletcher, Yacob, Morrison (Baird 89), McManaman (Gardner 54), Berahino (Ideye 79), Brunt. Subs not used: Wisdom, Anichebe, Mulumbu, Rose.
Chelsea: Courtois, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Luis, Loftus-Cheek (Ake 73), Matic, Remy (Brown 79), Fabregas, Hazard, Costa (Cuadrado 64). Subs not used: Mikel, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Blackman.