Pre-season report: Chelsea 8 Fulham 2
News Sat 15 Jul 2017
Antonio Conte’s side took its first steps of pre-season on Saturday with an entertaining win over neighbours Fulham in a behind-closed-doors friendly at Cobham.
There were goals galore as the champions played our first game of the 2017/18 campaign, watched by Tiemoue Bakayoko, whose signing was announced just minutes before kick-off.
It was a first runout for the Blues, who returned to training on Monday and fly to Beijing for the start of our pre-season tour this coming Tuesday. There was a familiar look to the starting 11, with only goalkeeper Willy Caballero, making his debut since joining from Manchester City, not a regular in the side last season.
Half-time saw changes and an opportunity for some players out on loan last season, with Loic Remy netting twice and Cesar Azpilicueta converting from the penalty spot.
There was not long to wait before we took the lead. Fulham’s Kevin McDonald gifted possession to Pedro who stole in and slipped it right to Batshuayi, and the Belgian unselfishly laid off for Willian to stroke home the opener on the quarter-hour.
Moments later Batshuayi beat the offside trap down the left channel and squared again for Willian to score.
Azpilicueta turned into his own goal following a Fulham cross from their right after 20 minutes, wrong-footing Caballero, to bring the visitors back into the game, but it was largely one-way traffic bar one excellent block from Cahill.
The Blues extended the lead on the half-hour when Batshuayi turned cleverly on the edge of the area and his left-footed strike squirmed through the grip of Fulham stopper David Button.
The Belgian claimed his second just four minutes later, latching onto a lofted Fabregas pass, steadying himself and firing into the bottom corner.
Button prevented the Belgian from claiming a hat-trick when he turned over another well-struck drive, but just before the break he could do nothing to prevent Willian completing his, a fierce right-footed shot too hot to handle after the Brazilian had beaten two men on the edge of the box.
At half-time Conte made nine changes, with his experienced centre-halves playing 15 minutes each throughout the second period.
Despite a change in personnel there was little let-up in the action. Loic Remy's left-footed effort curled just wide, and then Button turned a David Luiz free-kick around the post after Remy had been fouled 30 yards out.
At the other end Fulham were awarded a penalty after our left wing-back Kenedy brought down Ryan Fredericks inside the box, and Stefan Johansen sent Eduardo the wrong way to reduce the lead.
Two minutes later though the Blues’ four-goal lead was restored with Kenedy making amends. He held onto the ball well inside the Fulham area and cut back for Remy to side-foot home.
There was an unlikely source for our seventh goal, 18 minutes from time, and this time it was our turn to be awarded a penalty. Blues loanee Lucas Piazon, who returned to Craven Cottage for another season only yesterday, took out Fikayo Tomori and Cesar Azpilicueta, wearing the captain’s armband with Gary Cahill and David Luiz both substituted, took the ball.
Button guessed right, diving to his left and getting a hand to it, but he couldn’t prevent the ball creeping into the bottom corner. It was the Spaniard’s final action of the game, with Cahill returning to the fold in his place shortly afterwards.
Remy and Kyle Scott both had efforts saved by Button, but the keeper then felled Remy to give us another penalty. The Frenchman dusted himself down and with the minimum of fuss slotted the ball into the bottom corner. 8-2, and that's how it would finish.
At this stage it is more about getting minutes under the belt than results, reflected in the experimental nature of both teams, but it is an encouraging start to the Chelsea summer.