Premier League • England

Joao Felix defended for red card on Chelsea debut as pundits agree new signing was ‘brilliant’ despite defeat

Joao Felix after getting red card

Things did not exactly get off to the best of starts for Joao Felix on his Chelsea debut after he was shown a straight red card in their loss to Fulham.

Felix was announced as a new Chelsea player until the end of the season on Wednesday. He has joined them on an expensive loan deal from Atletico Madrid. Graham Potter threw him straight into the starting lineup for their clash with Fulham on Thursday.

Chelsea went into the game knowing the pressure was on Potter. Some reports had even suggested a negative result in this match would spell the end for him as their manager.

Other claims have been of less immediate concern, but the defeat across west London certainly won’t have helped his case.

Fulham won 2-1, with former Chelsea star Willian opening the scoring before Kalidou Koulibaly’s equaliser was rendered irrelevant by a winner from Carlos Vinicius.

While the score was 1-1, Chelsea went down to 10 men after debutant Felix was shown a red card for a studded challenge on Kenny Tete.

His debut, therefore, lasted less than an hour, and now he faces a three-match ban in the Premier League. He will miss games against Crystal Palace and Liverpool, as well as the reverse fixture against Fulham.

Now due to be out of action until February, Felix will face a battle to prove himself once he is eligible to play again.

But speaking after the full-time whistle, one ex-Chelsea player insisted he made a good first impression.

Joao Felix red card changed game – but new boy still earns praise

Joe Cole told BT Sport: “I thought [Felix] was brilliant tonight, I thought he showed straight away.

“I’ve seen enough in 45 minutes to know that he’s going to be a good signing for Chelsea, because he showed his ability, he showed his personality.

“But in a moment of madness, it changed the game.

“I thought Chelsea went on after that for the first 10-15 minutes, [they] looked good even down to 10 men. But it’s hard in the Premier League if you’re down a man and you’re constantly getting overloads in different parts of the pitch.

“Graham Potter tried to address that when he brought on the four subs. But ultimately, the big moments in football games are going against Chelsea Football Club and they’re going against Graham Potter.

“Something needs to change – not in that sense but something needs to change in the sense [that] they need a goal, a flukey win, just to build confidence back into the team.”

Another former England international, Peter Crouch, concurred with Cole’s opinion, despite reminding of the financial implications of Chelsea missing Felix.

Crouch added: “It’s about £600,000 I think per game so it’s not good. Obviously that’s £9million they’ve paid for a loan.

“But as Joe said, I think technically he was brilliant. He showed lots of lovely touches. He will be a great player but it was a moment of madness tonight that cost Chelsea.”

The next time Felix will be allowed to play will be against West Ham on February 11. He will have to wait until they host Southampton a week later (with a Champions League tie at Borussia Dortmund waiting in between) for his potential Stamford Bridge debut.

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