Three goals in the space of 16 second-half minutes did the damage as the Blues ended January with a surprise home defeat.
It was the west Londoners who went closer to opening the scoring in a first 45 minutes of few chances, when headers from Gary Cahill and Marcos Alonso only narrowly missed, but some incisive attacking play from the south-coast visitors in the second half, against a Chelsea defence which had by then lost Andreas Christensen to injury, found ways through.
Callum Wilson and Junior Stanislas were the first two Bournemouth scorers, with our former player Nathan Ake adding the third from close range.
From that moment on, there was no real way back for the Blues, and our eight-game unbeaten run in the league was at an end.
Prior to kick-off, the launch at tonight’s game of the club’s campaign against antisemitism was marked on the pitch by a giant banner across the centre-circle as the teams walked out.
Among those emerging from the tunnel was Thibaut Courtois, back after three games out due to injury but Antonio Conte was lacking Willian and Alvaro Morata who had hamstring and back problems respectively, and with Michy Batshuayi moving to Germany on loan earlier in the day, the boss fielded Eden Hazard and Pedro in his front three, along with Ross Barkley who was making his first Chelsea start.
Davide Zappacosta had retained his place from the FA Cup victory on this ground at the weekend, and the Italian was the first to threaten the visitors’ goal when he was not far away from making something out of a Hazard pass to the far post, but that was a rare moment of goalmouth activity in the opening 10 minutes.
It took a ball forward by Cesar Azpilicueta to Hazard in space to get the first flowing Chelsea move of the night underway. N’Golo Kante was involved too before Hazard squared into the danger zone but behind Pedro. The Spaniard could not react to that in time, but he did unleash his first shot of the game soon after. He was off-balance and off-target.
After that, Bournemouth made some advances into our half without creating any clear chances. Courtois caught a straight shot from Jordan Ibe.
With 25 minutes played the Blues suffered a blow. Christensen went down with what looked a muscle injury and he was soon walking off to be replaced by Toni Rudiger.
It was another of our central defenders who soon went within a whisker of opening the scoring, Cahill heading a corner onto the roof of the net. Hazard narrowly missed having a header of his own in front of goal when Marcos Alonso crossed. It was still 0-0 but this was better from Chelsea.
Barkley’s best ball of the game sent his new side on the attack again and soon after, the former Evertonian’s shot was blocked sufficiently to take all the pace off it on its way through to Asmir Begovic.
There was no stopping the towering Alonso from getting his head to a deep cross off the boot of Zappacosta but the wing-back watched it drop wide of the far post with Begovic sprawling. Time ran out in the first half, and neither side had really worked the opposing goalkeeper.
Our newest signings Emerson Palmieri and Olivier Giroud, who had been watching the game from just behind the Chelsea bench, were introduced to their new supporters at the interval.
Three minutes into the second-half, Lewis Cook fouled Hazard in prime Alonso free-kick territory but although the strike was again clean and over the wall, he could not repeat the feat of three days ago as the ball cleared the crossbar.
Two minutes later the Blues were behind when Wilson finished past the advancing Courtois having received Ibe’s smart return pass, Wilson having initial wrestled possession off Tiemoue Bakayoko.
Conte quickly swapped Cesc Fabregas for Barkley and the tempo of our play seemed to improve instantly. Rudiger squared the ball across the face of goal for no reward but just as it seemed we were properly getting on top in the game, Bournemouth doubled their lead when Stanislas, supplied by Wilson, was able to angle a run towards goal and finish through Courtois’ legs.
Callum Hudson-Odoi, a debutant at the weekend against Newcastle, was ready to come on before the goal, and the substitution continued to be made, but we were soon 3-0 down when with our defence having failed to clear a corner properly, Stanislas flashed a shot goalwards and Ake diverted it past Courtois. There were 67 minutes on the clock.
Alonso powered a shot not far wide, there were shouts for a handball against Ake in the Bournemouth area, Hudson-Odoi made Begovic save and Hazard volleyed over as we tried to mount a response, but it proved not possible tonight.
Watford away on Monday is our first chance to make amends, a game for which our new signings will be available.
Chelsea (3-4-3): Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen (Rudiger 28), Cahill (c); Zappacosta (Hudson-Odoi 65), Kante, Bakayoko, Alonso; Pedro, Hazard, Barkley (Fabregas 54).
Unused subs Caballero, Ampadu, Moses, Drinkwater.
Booked Fabregas 77
Bournemouth (3-4-3): Begovic; Francis (c), S Cook, Ake; Fraser, L Cook, Gosling, Daniels; Ibe (Pugh 82), Wilson (Mousset 90+2), Stanislas (King 70).
Unused subs Boruc, Simpson, Surman, Arter.
Scorers Wilson 51, Stanislas 64, Ake 67
Referee Lee Probert