Match report: NK Olimpija Ljubljana 1 Chelsea 2
News Sun 29 Dec 2014
First goals in a Chelsea shirt for Diego Costa and Kurt Zouma helped the Blues recover a half-time deficit to beat Olimpija Ljubljana in Slovenia.
Costa's goal was of the highest quality and made all the more satisfying because it was fellow new signing Cesc Fabregas that had played him in.
The winner from Zouma was a more rudimentary affair but it did the job and meant for the third pre-season game running we came from behind to avoid defeat, and, unlike on Wednesday, win.
There was a familar face in the dugout during the game, Didier Drogba having met up with his team-mates - some new, some old - and Jose Mourinho a couple of hours before kick-off in Ljubljana.
Next it's off to the Netherlands as our European training camp enters its second week. The Ivorian striker will start training then.
Along with Fabregas and Costa, Cesar Azpilicueta and Gary Cahill – who captained the team in the first half – also got their maiden minutes of pre-season having returned to training later because of World Cup involvement.
Jeremie Boga, our goalscorer on Wednesday night, also started, positioned in a central position behind Costa. Mohamed Salah and Izzy Brown flanked him while between the posts Matej Delac played his first Chelsea game.
Almost 16,000 people packed out the Stozice stadium on a sunny afternoon in the Slovenian capital; the attendance was the highest for any club game here since this country gained independence in 1991.
Those fans in the green of Olimpija will have been impressed by their side’s start, with skipper Cahill required to be on his toes to block threatening efforts from Nik Kapun and Andraz Sporar inside the first 10 minutes.
Costa had briefly threatened the home’s side goal on two occasions with his feet, but it was with his head that he first tested Aleksander Seliga, Olimpija’s keeper. That opportunity arose from a corner, won after Fabregas - the first half’s outstanding performer in blue - had gloriously laid an inviting ball into Salah’s path. The Eygyptian’s strike was blocked behind.
Kurt Zouma had the ball in the net on 24 minutes but his well-taken volley was disallowed for offside. We came close from another set-piece soon after, Cahill’s left-footed drive flashing not far wide of the post after Olimpija had struggled to clear from a corner.
In between those opportunities Delac was required to make his first save in a Chelsea shirt, and a fine save it was too, low to his left to keep out the stooping Aleksander Rodic.
There was nothing the Croatian could do about the opening goal, however. Kapun won the ball in midfield and exchanged passes with Darijan Matic (no relation of Nemanja).
He received the returned ball, made space for himself on the angle and thrashed his shot high into the net. That was five minutes before the interval and, save for one dangerous Olimpija counter-attack ended by Azpilicueta, the last meaningful action of the half.
Six new faces were introduced by Mourinho at the interval, and there was a switch in formation, too. 4-3-3 was the chosen system with Matic the deep-lying midfielder and Torres and Costa alternating between wide left and centre-forward.
Within 10 minutes, the plan had worked, and it was two of our summer recruits that caused the damage.
Fabregas, as so often throughout the match, was the recipient of a pass from our defence. He turned and threaded a pass through the heart of Olimpija’s back four. The weight was ideal for Costa to race on to and the former Atletico hitman made the rest look easy, sprinting beyond two green-shirted defenders and thumping a shot beyond Seliga. The power and direction of the finish gave the keeper no chance.
It was all Chelsea now and by minute 63 we had the lead. A short corner was worked via Fabregas and Matic to Torres. The Spaniard cut inside and shot for goal, the force of the effort proving too hot for Seliga to handle. Kurt Zouma was in the right place at the right time, six yards out, to prod into the empty net.
Ninety seconds after that it appeared we had further extended our lead. Van Ginkel’s corner was turned goalwards by Zouma and acrobatically palmed onto the underside of the crossbar by the increasingly busy Seliga. Branislav Ivanovic stabbed goalwards and with the help of John Terry the ball crossed the line. Initially the goal was given but the referee changed his mind and instead awarded our hosts a free-kick, possibly for a foul.
Excellent work down the left from the overlapping Nathan Ake created an easy opening for Torres but, close to the goal-line, he could only chest his effort up and over the bar.
That miss gave renewed optimism to Olimpija and it took a fine save from Petr Cech to deny Nik Omladic netting an equaliser, before Patrick Bamford – brought on for Costa – was on hand near our goal to divert a goalbound Miran Burgic volley wide.
Dominic Solanke, another second-half Chelsea substitute, got on the end of an inviting cross from Ivanovic and was unfortunate to see the ball loop over the bar. Bamford blazed over at the death but the job had been done by then.
Second half line-up (4-3-3): Cech; Ivanovic, Zouma, Terry (c), Ake; Fabregas (Romeu 63), Matic (Solanke 70), Van Ginkel; Salah (Chalobah 70), Costa (Bamford 70), Torres.
Unused subs Christensen, Baker, Swift.
Scorers Costa 55, Zouma 63
Booked Azpilicueta 33, Bamford 86
NK Olimpija (4-2-3-1): Seliga (c) (Ivacic 69); Jovic (Corn 69), Mlinar (Zarifovic 60), Mitrovic, Bajric; D Matic (Jurcevic 90), Kapun (Golubar 69); Omladic (Durkovic 87), Rodic (Burgic 69), Valencic (Vukcevic 57); Sporar (Gajic 76).
Scorer Kapun 39
Booked Rodic 25
Referee R Obrenovic (Slovenia)