MATCH REPORT: SEATTLE SOUNDERS 2 CHELSEA 4

Posted on: Fri 20 Jul 2012

Summary

Chelsea began our pre-season tour with a victory thanks to some sharp shooting from two debutants and a youngster keen to make his mark on the first team this season.

Romelu Lukaku, who featured only fleetingly in the last campaign led the line from the start at CenturyLink Field and looked every part the modern striker, firing home twice inside an entertaining 45 minutes.

In between his strikes, there was a goal apiece for Eden Hazard and Marko Marin, who each enjoyed a lively first outing in Chelsea blue, as Seattle struggled to cope with their pace and sharp interchanging.

Lukaku opened the scoring inside the first three minutes after being put through by Josh McEachran and Hazard doubled the lead shortly afterwards with a deflected effort.

A misplaced pass from McEachran allowed Fredy Montero to bring his side back into the game on 13 minutes though, and they levelled through the same player on 31.

Chelsea were not to be pegged back though as Marin opened his Blues account five minutes before the break, marking an impressive debut, before Lukaku added a fourth on the stroke of half-time.

Roberto Di Matteo made seven changes at the break, while his Seattle counterpart Sigi Schmid preferred to use his subs throughout a slower second half, in which both sides threatened but neither could score. Kevin De Bruyne was another significant debutant at half-time, and came closest to adding to our tally.

We now move on to New York where we will meet former manager Carlo Ancelotti and his Paris St Germain side in the first ever football game at the new Yankee Stadium.

Seattle Sounders (4-4-2): Meredith (Ford h-t); Scott (Johansson 70), Parke (Ianni 60), Hurtado, Gonzalez (Burch 70); Rosales (c) (Rose 60), Evans (Ochoa 70), Alonso (Zakuani 81), Fernandez (Carrasco 74); Montero (Seamon 81), Johnson (Levesque 65). Unused subs Tetteh, Steres.
Goals Montero 13, 31
Booked None

Chelsea first half (4-2-3-1): Hilario; Chalobah, Ivanovic (c), David Luiz, Ferreira; Mikel, McEachran; Benayoun, Hazard, Marin; Lukaku.
Chelsea second half (4-2-3-1): Blackman; Hutchinson, Ivanovic (Kane 63), Cahill, Ferreira (Saville 63); Essien, Lampard (c); Ramires, Hazard (Kakuta 63), De Bruyne; Lukaku (Piazon 63).
Goals Lukaku 2, 43, Hazard 10, Marin 39
Booked None

Referee Ricardo Salazar
Attendance 53,309

Team news

Di Matteo's first line-up as permanent manager was dictated more by pre-season fitness than any preferences the Italian may have. Still absent were some of our internationals on European Championship duty, with others still a little behind on their preparation.

And so it was that Hilario started in goal with an unfamiliar backline of 17-year-old Nathaniel Chalobah, captain Branislav Ivanovic, David Luiz and Paulo Ferreira. McEachran was given the nod in midfield alongside John Mikel Obi, while Yossi Benayoun completed an attacking three along with the new boys, and Lukaku was the only recognised striker in the matchday squad.

Experienced figures in Michael Essien, Frank Lampard, Ramires and Gary Cahill would join in the second half, along with another new signing, Kevin De Bruyne. Jamal Blackman debuted in goal for the second period.

Four more joined the action just after the hour, Gael Kakuta joined by three making their debuts - Todd Kane, George Saville and Lucas Piazon.

First half

It is hard to see how the 2012/13 season could have started better, with two youngsters combining inside three minutes to give us the lead.

McEachran did well to shrug off a challenge in midfield and advance a few yards before playing a slide-rule pass beyond the home defence for Lukaku to burst on to, and after shimmying around a rather desperate looking tackle, the Belgian fired across goalkeeper Bryan Meredith and into the far corner.

Seattle, who played in New York on Sunday, reacted quickly though and should have been level on seven minutes after Eddie Johnson, the former Fulham forward, crossed into the area. When Hilario flapped, it fell to Mauro Rosales, but the Sounders captain powered over and into the crowd.

The rather pleasing start continued for Chelsea, with Marin in particular of the new boys looking sharp, however it was fellow new boy Hazard who would shine when he grabbed the second goal.

Picking up the ball wide on the left the former Lille man beat his man and drove towards goal, cutting inside and shooting. The effort was deflected past the goalkeeper, but still a very encouraging development for this game and beyond.

Proof that concentration was still required in order to win the game came from McEachran, who upon winning the ball deep proceeded to give it away inside his own area, presenting the ball at the feet of Montero who calmly picked his spot beyond HIlario to halve the deficit.

Six minutes later Johnson headed wide as Chelsea struggled to shore things up at the back, and then Hilario had to be on fine form to tip wide from Alvaro Fernandez.

Marin and Hazard combined with a swift break through the Sounders half before the German curled straight at the keeper. Once again though, the signs were good with two players showing they are capable of running at and beating their opponents.

Just after the half-hour mark Seattle levelled, and it was no less than their energetic display deserved. Rosales played a cross-field pass to Montero, who had space to shoot past Ferreira and beat Hilario's dive. Match sharpness was still clearly some way off for a few of the Blues.

Marin however looked as if the three extra weeks of work he did at Cobham prior to linking up with his team-mates was paying off. Every time he received the ball down the left he looked dangerous, frequently cutting inside on to his right foot and it was this method that brought us back into the lead. McEachran found the 23-year-old in plenty of space and he drove for goal, checked, and then shot low past the unconvincing Meredith.

There was nothing the goalkeeper could do about the fourth goal though, as Marin slipped in Lukaku, he rounded Meredith and slotted home. The Sounders defence had endured a torrid first half to the benefit of an impressive group of Chelsea youngsters.

Second half

Cahill began this season as he left the last, making an impressive block from Johnson to deny Sounders a third goal.

On the hour came four further changes and three debuts. Gael Kakuta the odd man out alongside George Saville, Todd Kane and Lucas Piazon.

The game was by this stage being punctuated with regular substitution breaks, as the Sounders introduced a number of fringe players to face the European champions. Midfielder Brad Evans, interviewed on this website on Tuesday, was forced to limp off through injury.

A rare moment of action saw Lampard feed De Bruyne, who side-footed wide under pressure. The Belgian was another who had shown glimpses of his class up to that point with some decent passing and movement.

Kane brought a sharp save from Seattle's substitute goalkeeper Josh Ford with a long drive that is fast becoming his trademark eight minutes from time, but that was as close as either side would come in the closing stages.

And so we kick-off the 2012/13 campaign, and our summer tour, with a victory. Probably no less than anybody expected, in front of a large and noisy Seattle crowd. Let's hope for more excitement in New York.