SUPER CUP REPORT: CHELSEA 1 ATLETICO MADRID 4
On a dreadfully disappointing night in Monaco, the Blues were beaten 4-1 by an impressive Atletico Madrid outfit in the UEFA Super Cup.
A Radamel Falcao hat-trick in the opening 45 minutes ensured the game was all but over as a contest before the break.
Falcao broke the deadlock after only six minutes when he calmly chipped his effort beyond Petr Cech, and 13 minutes later he doubled their advantage with arguably the goal of the night, curling a wonderful strike into the top corner from the edge of the penalty area.
It had been a poor first half performance from Roberto Di Matteo's men, and Falcao scored a third a minute before the break, taking an Arda Tura pass in his stride before poking the ball into the bottom corner.
Gary Cahill scored a consolation goal late on to restore an ounce of pride, but in truth, it's a night which everybody connected with the club will want to forget.
Roberto Di Matteo made two changes to the side which beat Newcastle United 2-0 last weekend, with Ramires coming in for Ryan Bertrand and Frank Lampard replacing Raul Meireles. With John Terry missing through suspension, David Luiz and Gary Cahill renewed their partnership at the heart of the defence, while Lampard took over captaincy duties from Petr Cech.
Thibaut Courtois, on loan from Chelsea, started in goal for Atletico, while former Blues midfielder Tiago missed out through suspension.
The Spanish side came flying out of the blocks and were almost in front inside three minutes when Radamel Falcao met an Adrian Lopez cross, only to see his effort crash against the bar with Cech beaten.
Three minutes later, however, their early pressure told, Falcao racing through on goal and chipping his effort beyond Cech, while David Luiz covering was unable to prevent the ball from crossing the line via the aid of a post.
The early deficit forced the Blues into a response, and after Frank Lampard had a long-range effort blocked, Eden Hazard was unlucky as he tried his luck from distance also, fizzing a right-footed strike over the bar.
Atletico looked dangerous every time they broke at speed, and Adrian Lopez forced Cech into a smart stop after accelerating past Gary Cahill.
Falcao, who had been a constant threat during the opening exchanges, doubled his and Atletico's tally for the night in the 19th minute, pouncing on a loose ball before curling an exquisite effort into the top corner.
The goal sent the travelling Spanish supporters delirious, and they had every reason to be given the highly-coveted Columbian striker's ruthlessness in front of goal.
By comparison, the Blues faithful were understandably silent, and while they may have been slightly encouraged by a brief riposte after the first goal, it had been a poor start to the game.
What had been a disappointing opening half almost took a turn for the worse 10 minutes before the break, but the fact it remained 2-0 was solely due to poor finishing.
Arda Turan was freed down the right-hand side, and as he played the ball across goal and into the path of Lopez, with the goal at his mercy, the wide man somehow contrived to fluff the opportunity. The danger still wasn't clear, though, and it was only the foot of the post which prevented Falcao from scoring a hat-trick.
The warning signs had been there, and it was no surprise when, with almost the last kick of the half, Falcao made it 3-0.
As another Chelsea attack broke down, Atletico broke at speed. Turan advanced as Cahill and David Luiz backed off, calmly rolling the ball into the path of the Columbian who made no mistake.
Torres, who had been enduring a quiet evening against his former club, dragged a shot wide soon after the restart following some neat skill to evade his marker.
With a three-goal lead to protect, Diego Simeone's side were content to sit back and invite pressure, safe in the knowledge that they possessed all of the attributes required to punish us on the break.
If the task was a sizeable one at 3-0, it became almost mission impossible when Miranda made it 4-0 on the hour.
As a free-kick was swung into the box from out on the right-hand side, we failed to deal with it properly, and as the loose ball ran into the path of Miranda, the defender stabbed his effort past Cech, who got a hand to it, from close-range.
After starting the half brightly, the fourth goal ensured we were playing the last 30 minutes purely to restore some pride, but as an attacking force we were virtually non-existent.
Some pride, to a certain degree, was restored with 16 minutes left to play, when Cahill reacted quickest to a loose ball in the penalty area following a Lampard corner, and smashed his strike beyond Courtois for his second goal of the season.
With our heads up following the goal, a flowing move involving Oscar, Hazard and Mata ended with the Spaniard firing over, and it was to be his last involvement before being withdrawn, replaced by Daniel Sturridge with 10 minutes remaining.
Atletico, however, were still threatening on the break, and Ashley Cole made a timely intervention as Turan looked to tee up Falcao.
Falcao, Atletico's hero on the night, was replaced by Emre Belozoglu in the 86th minute, and it said much for his performance that the Chelsea supporters joined their Spanish counterparts in affording the striker a standing ovation.
Turan, who had been one of the standout performers, should have compounded our misery when he hit the post in the closing minutes, but the real damage had already been done.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, David Luiz, Cole (Bertrand 89); Mikel, Lampard (c); Ramires (Oscar h/t), Hazard, Mata (Sturridge 81); Torres.
Unused substitutes: Turnbull, Romeu, Meireles, Moses.
Goal Cahill 74
Booked Ivanovic 29
Atletico Madrid (4-2-3-1): Courtois; Juanfran, Miranda, Godin, Filipe Luis; Gabi (c), Mario Suarez; Arda Turan, Koke (Raul Garcia 81), Adrian Lopez (Rodriguez 56); Falcao (Emre 87).
Unused substitutes: Asenjo, Silvio, Cata Diaz, Costa.
Goals Falco 6, 18, 44, Miranda 60,
Referee Damir Skomina (Slovenia)