MATCH REPORT: EINTRACHT FRANKFURT 2 CHELSEA 1

Posted on: Sun 01 Aug 2010

Chelsea suffered a second successive friendly defeat on Sunday, after a late penalty gave our German hosts a narrow victory.

On the balance of play it was perhaps a fair result, though it should be noted that Eintracht Frankfurt are a week ahead of the Blues in their preparations, with the Bundesliga kicking off next weekend.

It was individual slips that cost us, first Hilario made a hash of his clearance and then a shirt pull by Branislav Ivanovic handed our hosts a penalty, either side of substitute Frank Lampard's equaliser.

Results however are not the key factor in these games, and Carlo Ancelotti will have been pleased to see his World Cup players, and a couple of injury victims gaining some minutes on the pitch.

For our third pre-season fixture, the manager was boosted by the presence nine returning World Cup internationals, and the Italian opted to start with six of them.

Also available for the first time was Yossi Benayoun, whose groin injury had eased to allow him a debut, and Yury Zhirkov, who had recovered from his hamstring complaint for a first run out of 2010/11.

It was a hot day in central Germany, made all the more uncomfortable with the presence of the Commerzbank Arena's roof, shadowing a patchy-looking pitch that had hosted two American Football games the day before.

Following the pre-match meet and greets, it was the Blues who started the brighter, Nicolas Anelka squaring across the Eintracht area early on, and Jeffrey Bruma heading Florent Malouda's corner over after the initial cross was cleared behind.

Malouda, Salomon Kalou and Benayoun interlinked well after eight minutes, Kalou shooting high after some inventive touches from his team-mates, and then home goalkeeper Oka Nikolov had to rush from his line to punch clear a through ball from John Terry as Malouda closed in.

Ten minutes later though it was the Germans who were celebrating the game's first goal, as another goalkeeping blunder blighted Chelsea's pre-season campaign. Last week it was Ross Turnbull, today it was Hilario's turn.

With the ball rolling towards the custodian, Terry opted to touch the ball back with a forward bearing down. It seemed to throw the Portuguese goalkeeper who then tried to beat his man, lost possession and the ball ran loose to Patrick Ochs, who made no mistake in looping the ball over into an empty net.

It was a messy little episode for Chelsea in what had otherwise been a reasonably tidy opening, if showing signs of a little rust in the eight who had not previously featured this summer.

Just after the half-hour, Frankfurt's summer signing Theofanis Gekas almost caught Hilario out with an overhead kick after he was afforded space inside the area, but the keeper was alert enough to make the save.

A moment later another hashed clearance was almost punished, but Hilario parried well, first from Gekas and then from Ochs. There was only one side looking like scoring now, and just before the break Amanatidis nearly did, crashing a half-volley just wide.

Eight Chelsea changes followed at half-time, among them Frank Lampard, Branislav Ivanovic and Ricardo Carvalho all getting their first taste of pre-season action, and Michael Mancienne on at right-back, his first Chelsea game after a season with Wolves.

Malouda and Essien, another sub, both came close in the opening exchanges, while Gekas sent another Frankfurt effort just wide.

Chelsea's equaliser came courtesy of Lampard, who had only flown into Frankfurt on Sunday morning after illness.

Patrick Van Aanholt made a surging run down the left, and sending a pass inside which Lampard could only half reach before sub goalkeeper Ralf Fahrmann, who got his legs to the ball but not enough to continue its forward momentum, allowing the midfielder to run on and smash it over the line to level things up.

There followed the type of quiet period that comes with multiple substitutions in a friendly game, but with nine minutes remaining Frankfurt were awarded a penalty after a tug inside the area, and Halil Altintop, smashed it straight down the middle and in.

Two minutes later Chelsea had Carvalho to thank for keeping the deficit down to one, as he prevented Altintop from shooting into an empty net after another Hilario clearance was charged down.

At the other end Fabio Borini beat the offside trap and should have levelled, but goalkeeper Fahrmann stayed big and saved with his legs.

It was to be the last chance of the game, and so it is two straight defeats, but several important returns for Chelsea. Next up is Hamburg on Wednesday before the big one against Manchester United a week today.

Chelsea (4-3-3): Hilario; Ferreira (Mancienne h-t), Bruma (Carvalho h-t), Terry (c) (Ivanovic h-t), Cole (Van Aanholt h-t); Benayoun (Lampard h-t), Mikel (Essien h-t), Zhirkov (Matic h-t); Kalou (Sinclair 58), Anelka (Borini h-t), Malouda (McEachran 58).

Goal: Lampard 63
Booked: Malouda 36

Frankfurt (4-4-2): Nikolov (Fahrmann h-t); Ochs (Rode 68), Franz (Bellaid h-t), Russ, Tzavellas; Jung, Meier (Fenin 76), Schwegler (Heller 68), Kohler (Korkmaz 76); Amanatidis (Altintop 59), Gekas (Caio 59).

Goals: Ochs 24, Altintop (pen) 82