UNDER-21S REPORT: CHELSEA 5 LEICESTER CITY 1
Two goals each from Isaiah Brown and Islam Feruz with John Swift completing the scoring gave the Under-21s an impressive win in front of supporters at Stamford Bridge.
Fresh from a big away win at Southampton last week and with Jose Mourinho watching on, there was an impressive cutting edge from the young Blues side in front of goal. Leicester were capable of causing problems, and hit the woodwork as well as going close on a couple other occasions, but their chances were limited by the home defence and they had to wait until the closing minutes for their consolation goal.
Dion Conroy came into central defence in place of injured Alex Davey and with Jeremie Boga, Lamisha Musonda and Alex Kiwomya also out, John Swift, Islam Feruz and Anjur Osmanovic were brought into the starting line-up.
Feruz played in the no.10 role behind striker Isaiah Brown with Swift wide on the right and Osmanovic on the left.
For Leicester, Archange Nkumu, who left Chelsea at the end of last season, was in midfield. He is on trial at the Midlands club.
The two sides came into the game with similar records from their two league games so far and Leicester centre-forward Marko Futacs worried Chelsea in the opening seconds with a shot wide. Feruz had an attempt charged down and it was a pretty even opening few minutes.
But then on seven minutes the Blues midfield suddenly found space left by the visitors in the middle of the park and made them pay. Moving the the ball with speed through the centre, it was Swift who laid the pass through to Brown. Although the keeper took some of the pace off the 16-year-old's shot, it was not enough to stop it finding the net.
The lead could have been lost just three minutes later when Jak McCourt stole the ball from in front of Baker but he fortunately shot over.
As the half progressed, Dermot Drummy's side were steadily getting a grip on the game, with the likes of Baker, Swift and Lotus-Cheek finding time to link passes. It was defender Andreas Christensen who tested the Leicester keeper next however, having exchanged passes with Feruz following a gliding run by the Dane from deep inside his own half.
On 28 minutes Leicester City came close to a set-piece equaliser, Harry Panayiotou heading just over, as he did in open play soon after, but not before Chelsea had made it 2-0.
Osmanovic, having come inside from his left wing role, ran at the heart of the Leicester defence and past a challenge but although his shot was blocked, it fell to the feet of Feruz who wasted not a second in dispatching it. There was half an hour of the game played.
Feruz could have had a second before the interval, after another impressive move. Christensen picked out the Scotland Under-21 international's run but Feruz shinned his volley. With the ball dropping over his shoulder, it was a difficult chance. He flashed another shot from distance wide but it was Leicester who went closest - a free-kick from Michael Cain on the stroke of half-time beating Blackman but rebounding off the crossbar.
Billy Clifford came on for Osmanovic and played in midfield with Brown moving to a role wider on the left and Feruz taking over as centre-forward, and it was he who added the third goal with a fine example of the striker's art.
Clifford had moved the ball forward at pace and played it on to Feruz, who adjusted his position from back-to-goal and drilled it low across the keeper in a smooth movement. It was 3-0 with an hour played.
Prior to that goal, Fructas with a header was a whisker away from scoring, the visitors threat in the air an enduring feature of this match, but Brown ensured the Foxes were finished on this occasion with a classy goal just two minutes after Feruz's second.
On the left of the area, the signing from West Brom guided the ball inside his marker with his left foot and curled it beyond Adam Smith with his right. It was Brown's fourth goal in three Under-21 league appearances.
The Leicester keeper was next in action when saving from Swift but he couldn't keep out the same player with 13 minutes to play. Clifford's contribution was vital, beating his man inside the area near the by-line and squaring for Swift to side foot into the net.
By the end of the game the rain was falling hard and Leicester got their goal when Conroy's slide just failed to cut out a pass, and Tom Hopper was able to race through and lift the ball over Blackman.
In the time left. Blackman produced his best save of the game with a tip over the bar and Swift was prevented from joining his colleagues on two goals by a Smith save.
The Under-21s are next in action away to Aston Villa on 2 September.
'I'm pleased because it can be difficult at the Bridge for the players,' said Dermot Drummy, 'and with Jose Mourinho watching as well, which is great, there is another edge to it.
'We are Chelsea and we have to win well and play well, and the players did that. Sometimes I can be over-critical but I want the best and I can be demanding. I tend to look at Leicester hitting the bar rather than us scoring five but I was very pleased with the all-round performance.
'We are missing five players, good players, and we brought Anjur Osmanovic in who is an Under-19 who can't play in the youth team and Billy Clifford who is in transition on loan. We also played Ruben Loftus-Cheek for 90 minutes and we have looked at his fitness levels and it is good for his confidence today because he has shown he can do it.
'Lewis Baker was outstanding in midfield and Andreas Christensen and Nathan Ake had to defend the high ball at times and they did that admirably.
'I switched it up front at half time because we weren't pressuring their right-back. You have to be adaptable. You are going to play against teams that give you problems and you have to counter that.'
Chelsea (4-4-2): Jamal Blackman; Isak Ssewankambo (Fankaty Dabo 83), Dion Conroy (Ola Aina 85), Andreas Christensen, Nathan Ake (c); John Swift, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Lewis Baker, Anjur Osmanovic (Billy Clifford h/t); Islam Feruz, Isaiah Brown.
Unused sub Mitchell Beeney.
Leicester (4-3-3): Adam Smith; Ryan Watson, Alfie Sesay (c), Sean Urquart (Callum Elder 67), George Taft; Jak McCourt, Michael Cain, Archange Nkumu; Harry Panayiotou, Marko Futacs, Tom Hopper.
Unused subs Robert Paratore, Liam Sharpe, Jamie Anton, Joe Dodd.
- The highlights are available via CTV's online access.