A Jeremie Boga goal six minutes from time earned the Blues a 1-1 draw against WAC RZ Pellets in Austria...
A Jeremie Boga goal six minutes from time earned the Blues a 1-1 draw against Austrian top-flight side WAC RZ Pellets.
On a night when Jose Mourinho was able to give minutes to every outfield member of the matchday squad, we looked on course for a first defeat of pre-season until Boga’s late intervention.
The opening 45 minutes had ended goalless, with Izzy Brown passing up the best opportunity of the half, but the home side took the lead soon after the break.
Mourinho unsurprisingly made a number of substitutions during the second half, but it was the switch he made at the break – Boga for Lewis Baker – which ultimately proved pivotal.
Next up for the Blues is a game against Olympia Ljubljana in Slovenia on Sunday.
New signing Filipe Luis was involved for the Blues for the first time at the Worthersee Stadium. The Brazilian was selected at left-back in a strong back four alongside Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry and Kurt Zouma, while Petr Cech started his first game since picking up a shoulder injury at the end of last season.
Further forward there was a more youthful look to the side, with starts for Baker, Brown and Patrick Bamford, while in midfield Nemanja Matic partnered Marco van Ginkel.
Fernando Torres, Cesar Azpilicueta, Gary Cahill, Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa weren’t involved having only joined up with the squad on Monday.
Those players who recently joined up with the squad having featured at the World Cup aren’t involved this evening.
While the main objective of pre-season friendlies is for the players to improve their fitness levels there is certainly no bad time to develop a winning habit, and the Blues went into the game looking for a third consecutive victory.
Last week’s wins against Wycombe Wanderers and AFC Wimbledon were achieved in contrasting ways, and Jose Mourinho will have been looking for his side to be far more solid from a defensive point of view than they were at Kingsmeadow on Saturday.
We started the game positively, with some neat passing and interchanging between the attacking players. Baker tested Kofler Alexander inside the first five minutes with a dipping free-kick, with the 19-year-old and Van Ginkel linking up soon after to release Mohamed Salah, who was thwarted by a last-ditch challenge.
Bamford, scorer of our opening goal at Wycombe a week ago, fired into the side-netting after 15 minutes, ignoring the call of the unmarked Baker having shown great awareness to capitalise on a mix-up in the WAC defence.
There was barely a spare seat inside the stadium, with the visit of the Blues a source of much excitement in the local area, and the home supporters were doing their best to get behind a side who had opened their domestic campaign with a 4-1 win last weekend.
Brown was presented with the best opportunity of the game when he latched on to a Bamford flick 10 minutes before the break. The 17-year-old looked destined to add to his brace at Wycombe but, with the ‘keeper racing off his line quickly to narrow the angle, fired straight at Alexander.
Unlike the two previous friendlies, Mourinho made just the one change to personnel at half-time, replacing Baker with Jeremie Boga in a straight swap.
The second half started badly for the Blues, with Zouma shown the first yellow card of the night shortly before WAC took the lead in controversial fashion.
The ball was whipped in from the right-hand side and as it was headed back into the danger zone De Oliveira Silvio steered it towards goal. Cech managed to divert the strike against the underside of the bar and away, but while the ref waved play on, the linesman ruled that the ball had crossed the line as it bounced down. Terry led the complaints but they fell on deaf ears and the goal was given.
It took a brilliant Terry intervention to prevent the home side from extending their lead soon after and we were struggling to find any rhythm in our play.
A triple change saw Luis, Van Ginkel and Bamford replaced by Nathan Ake, Oriol Romeu and Dominic Solanke, who took up a position wide on the left with Brown moving up front.
WAC were relatively comfortable from a defensive point of view, with a Zouma header, which sailed straight into the arms of Alexander, our only attempt on goal during the opening 20 minutes of the second half.
It was the Austrian side looking the more threatening of the two teams, with Cech called into action twice in quick succession, first tipping over from a fierce Wernitznig Christopher drive and then diverting a Silvio header over the bar.
Six minutes from time, however, the Blues were back on terms, with a goal of real quality.
The ball was worked forward to Branislav Ivanovic, who guided it into the path of Boga. The young Frenchman took a touch, displayed fantastic strength to ride the defensive challenge and finished in style, flicking the ball beyond Alexander and into the bottom corner.
Chelsea: (4-2-3-1): Cech; Ivanovic, Zouma, Terry (c), Luis (Ake 60); Van Ginkel (Romeu 60), Matic (Chalobah 81); Salah (Swift 85), Baker (Boga h/t), Brown (Christensen 77); Bamford (Solanke 60).
Unused substitutes Beeney, Delac
Scorer Boga 84
Booked Zouma 50
RZ Pellets WAC 4-3-3: Kofler (Dobnik h/t); Standfest (Berger h/t), Sollbauer (c) (Rnic h/t), Drescher (Seidl 89), Baldauf (Palla h/t); Zulj (Silvio h/t), Putsche (Hüttenbrenner h/t), Weber (Schwendinger h/t); Seebacher (Kerhe h/t), Trdina (Simon h/t), Jacobo (Wernitznig h/t).
Scorer: Silvio 54
Booked: Rnic 84
Referee: H Trattnig (Austria)