MATCH REPORT: BRIGHTON 3 CHELSEA 1

Posted on: Mon 06 Aug 2012

Summary
A disappointing afternoon and a third straight pre-season defeat suggests there is plenty of work to do before the start of the new campaign.

When Frank Lampard put us in front 10 minutes before the break everything appeared to be going to plan, but two minutes later it was all-square as Vicente slotted home from inside the penalty area.

Brighton then took the lead eight minutes later when Ashley Barnes converted from close-range, and while we enjoyed plenty of possession in the second half, aside from a couple of efforts from David Luiz and Eden Hazard, we failed to seriously worry the home side.

Attention now turns to next Sunday's Community Shield against Manchester City at Villa Park, where an improvement, both in performance and result, is essential.

Team news
There was a domestic debut for Eden Hazard as Roberto Di Matteo named a strong starting line-up. Gary Cahill was given the nod to partner captain John Terry in central defence, while Michael Essien started alongside Frank Lampard in midfield. Fernando Torres made his first start of pre-season in attack.

Former Chelsea academy product Liam Bridcutt, meanwhile, started in midfield for Gustavo Poyet's side.

First half
Our first meeting with the south-coast outfit since a Kevin Wilson goal secured all three points back in 1989 saw the Blues fans turn out in force, and they were in fantastic voice from the first whistle as the home side welcomed us on to the pitch with a guard of honour following our Champions League triumph in May.

Lampard had the first attempt on goal after Ramires had cleverly won a free-kick on the edge of the box, but the midfielder's low, driven effort cannoned off the wall, while Hazard's delivery from the rebound went straight into the hands of Tomasz Kuszczak.

Bridcutt made a timely interception to repel the advancing Hazard as we looked to break at pace following a Brighton corner, while shortly after Terry cleared at the near-post from a dangerous cross by Vicente.

Eden Hazard is challenged by Liam Bridcutt

Clear-cut opportunities may have been proving elusive, but with both teams trying to play the game in the right way there was certainly no shortage of entertaining football on show.

Ten minutes before the break, however, the deadlock was broken with a wonderful counter-attack by the Blues.

Ramires picked the ball up just inside the Brighton half and was allowed to advance unchallenged, before rolling the ball into the path of Torres who smartly dummied, allowing Lampard to calmly slot us into the lead.

Lampard after scoring at Brighton

Unfortunately, two minutes after taking the lead the scores were level again as Vicente, who had enjoyed a decent game, rolled his left-footed strike into the bottom corner beyond Petr Cech.

With half-time approaching, the game, as a spectacle, was improving. Clearly stung by the equaliser, we seized the initiative and went close twice in quick succession, firstly from a Branislav Ivanovic header and then with a long-range Michael Essien strike.

However, the hosts took a shock lead a minute before the break when Cech saved well to deny Vicente, only for the rebound to fall straight into the path of Ashley Barnes who rifled his effort into the back of the net.

Second half
Di Matteo made one change at the break, replacing the largely ineffective Raul Meireles with John Mikel Obi, allowing Lampard to play in a more advanced role.

Gary Cahill went close in the opening minute of the second spell, only to see his header from Lampard's corner well saved by Kuszczak.

The Blues, playing in our new black third strip, started the second period well and Lampard fizzed a teasing delivery across the face of the goal as we looked to restore parity.

Our goalscorer was at the heart of everything and it was from another of his crosses that Torres wasted a good opportunity, smashing his strike high over the bar when he should have at least tested the keeper.

Vicente almost doubled his tally for the afternoon with a stunning strike from outside the box after evading two defenders, only for Cech to make a fantastic stop, acrobatically tipping over the bar.

We made our second change of the afternoon on the hour when David Luiz came on at the expense of Terry, and the Brazilian almost made an instant impact, going close with a delightful curling effort from distance, while Kuszczak saved well from Ramires at the near-post.

With 15 minutes remaining Lampard almost drew us level, capitalising on a mistake in the Brighton defence and combining well with Torres, before his goal-bound effort was blocked on the line.

It was to be the Spaniards' last contribution as minutes later he was withdrawn, replaced by the young Belgian Romelu Lukaku who scored a brace in the 4-2 win against Seattle Sounders.

With seven minutes left to play Vicente almost put the game beyond doubt with a free-kick that sailed inches past Turnbull's left-hand post.

An impressive run by Lukaku then drew a free-kick of our own, but David Luiz's strike rebounded off the wall and away from danger, while a minute later Hazard went close.

Romelu Lukaku wins a free-kick at Brighton

However, the game was all but over four minutes from time. David Luiz went down and appealed for a foul, but as the referee ignored his claims, Andrew Crofts was allowed a clear run on goal and made no mistake, rolling his effort beyond Turnbull.

The game ended on a sour note, with both Ashley Cole and Ivanovic involved in ugly exchanges as frustrations threatened to boil over, but all in all, it was an afternoon our players will want to forget in a hurry.

Chelsea: (4-3-3)
Cech (Turnbull 64); Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry (c) (David Luiz 60), Cole; Meireles (Mikel h/t), Essien, Lampard; Ramires, Torres (Lukaku 78), Hazard.
Unused substitutes: Ferreira, Hutchinson, Benayoun, Piazon.
Goal: Lampard 34

Brighton & Hove Albion: (4-1-2-1-2)
Kuszczak; Bruno, Greer (c), Dunk, Calderon; Bridcutt; Dicker (Harley 58), Crofts; Vicente; Buckley (Noone 64), Barnes (Agdestein 90).
Unused substitutes: Brezovan, Ankergren, El-Abd, Sparrow, Vincelot.
Goals: Vicente 37, Barnes 43, Crofts 86

Crowd: 17,149
Referee: Dave Phillips