Posted on: Mon 27 Jul 2009

The US tour has been concluded with the World Football Challenge bowl and a fourth win in four, thanks to late goals from Franco Di Santo and Florent Malouda.

It means that Carlo Ancelotti retains his 100 per cent status as Chelsea manager after an entertaining encounter at the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Texas.

As the tour approached its end, the Italian opted to rest a few players and give valuable match minutes to those who had so far not featured so much.


Hilario came in in goal, while the back four totally changed with Sam Hutchinson and Michael Mancienne given first starts, while in midfield Deco returned alongside Michael Essien, Florent Malouda and Scott Sinclair. Daniel Sturridge and Salomon Kalou were the forwards.

Club America had already emerged victorious against both AC Milan and Inter, and with their domestic season due to kick off on Wednesday, they were expected to be sharp.

It was the Blues who had the first chance though, and Sturridge should have scored after Sinclair had squared into the area.

With the ball approaching at pace, the unmarked forward tried to steer the ball towards the far corner with his left foot, but miscued and his shot went wide.

The 19-year-old was looking lively though, and he skipped past two challenges with ease after 17 minutes, only to be stopped in his tracks with a foul by Ricardo Rojas, who earned a yellow card.

Four minutes later Hilario was called into action for the first time, diving to his left to push over a Enrique Esqueda header in spectacular fashion, only to see the ref blow up for a foul.

Esqueda should have scored seconds afterwards when he was afforded space in the area, but side-footed just wide with the goalkeeper beaten.

At the other end Alex was given the opportunity to try his luck from a free-kick after a foul on Sinclair, but drove just wide from 30 yards.

Chelsea were on top, and thought we had taken the lead on 34 minutes when Malouda swung in a dangerous free-kick. Kalou flicked on but goalkeeper Navarrete just managed to divert the ball onto the post and back out, before a defender cleared over his own bar.

Two minutes later almost identical happened, this time Carvalho's nod down rebounding out off the post and again America scrambled clear.

Club America

This theme continued when in added time there was more chaos inside the Mexicans' six-yard area. Malouda burst clear and tried to square before Navarrete palmed the ball away. Alex and Kalou both tried to get involved but were again thwarted by sheer numbers.

With the game goalless at half-time, Ancelotti made three changes. Ross Turnbull was given a second outing in goal, while Andriy Shevchenko and Franco Di Santo replaced Sinclair and Sturridge respectively. They formed a partnership up front, while Kalou dropped back to the top of the midfield diamond.

Nine minutes into the second period Shevchenko was brought down on the edge of the area, presenting Deco with a dead ball chance, but his shot was straight into the wall.

Di Santo cut in and shot high for Chelsea while for America Esqueda tested Turnbull's reflexes with a well-struck half-volley before the hour mark, and then it was our turn to feel the benefit of the post, as Pavel Pardo's glancing header bounced off the upright and clear.

A goal was looking increasingly likely before the inevitable wave of substitutions that seems to accompany pre-season friendlies, causing a lull in play for around 15 minutes.

Then the game burst to life with two Chelsea goals inside five minutes.

First Malouda chipped into the danger area and Di Santo prodded home after beating Navarrete to the ball, and then the pair changed roles with the young Argentine cutting back for the Frenchman to coolly side-foot into the net.

Di Santo's in particular seemed to bring relief, as he had not scored in a first team game since last pre-season. He celebrated by running to the touchline where he was mobbed first by John Terry and then a host of team-mates.

Given the balance of the game, the Blues deserved victory and will have been encouraged by the professional nature of the performance, which ensured we would be lifting the trophy after the match.

It might not be too high on the list of priorities for the season, but a footballer will always tell you it is good to get into the habit of lifting silverware.

Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys awarded the trophy. The combined crowd total who watched Chelsea's tour was 274,945, averaging 68,736 - the largest for a four-match tour in US history.

By Andy Jones

Chelsea (4-4-2): Hilario (Turnbull h-t); Mancienne (Ivanovic 66), Alex, Carvalho (c), Hutchinson (A Cole 66); Essien, Sinclair (Shevchenko h-t), Malouda, Deco; Kalou (Pizarro 63), Sturridge (Di Santo h-t).

Goals Di Santo 75, Malouda 77

Booked Hutchinson 48

Club America (4-1-4-1): Navarrete; O. Rojas, Mosquera (Inigo 73), R. Rojas (Sanchez 63), Cerda, Reyna (Montenegro 53), Beausejour, Pardo (Martinez 63), Silva (Kontogiannis 65), Esqueda, Cabanas.

Booked R.Rojas 17