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Match report: Chelsea 0 Fiorentina 1

Our pre-season campaign ended in defeat against Fiorentina but there were positives to take as Jose Mourinho was able to hand much-needed minutes to virtually all of his squad, as well as coming through the 90 minutes with no fresh injury concerns. 

The scoreline was harsh on the Blues, who dominated possession and carved out some decent opportunities, but Gonzalo Rodriguez’s close-range finish after 34 minutes proved decisive.

The manager handed Radamel Falcao his first start in pre-season, the Colombian operating as the lone striker with Victor Moses, Oscar and Juan Cuadrado, who was playing against his former club, tasked with providing the creativity.

Asmir Begovic was selected in goal, with John Terry captaining the side, and youngsters Ola Aina, Bertrand Traore and Ruben Loftus-Cheek were also given a chance to impress. 

A strong bench containing the likes of Branislav Ivanovic, Nemanja Matic, Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard was a strong indication Mourinho was likely to make a number of changes throughout the evening.

Prior to kick-off, the whole squad were introduced to the crowd individually before posing for a squad photograph in the centre of the pitch.

Begovic quickly endeared himself to the Stamford Bridge faithful inside the opening couple of minutes, producing a fine stop low down to his right as the visitors threatened.

The game may have been a friendly but there was no lack of urgency from either side early on, and soon afterwards Loftus-Cheek headed over the bar from an Oscar free-kick.

We started the game with Aina at right-back and Traore on the opposite side, while further forward it was Oscar operating in the ‘number 10’ position, flanked by Cuadrado on his right and Moses to his left.

Loftus-Cheek had started brightly and the young midfielder had the crowd on their feet with a brilliant piece of play, picking the ball up from Begovic before instigating a move, involving Oscar and Moses, which he almost finished off after taking the Nigerian’s pass and easing away from two defenders inside the Fiorentina penalty area, only to see his low drive blocked and cleared to safety.

Moses has enjoyed an impressive pre-season campaign and looked a real threat, with one cross in particular, following a wonderful piece of skill out wide on the right, narrowly evading both Oscar and Cuadrado.

Just after the half-hour mark Fiorentina’s Matias Vecino rattled the bar with a fierce strike from distance, and moments later Paulo Sousa’s side took the lead when Rodriguez tapped into an empty net after a Begovic save had fallen kindly for him. The goal came 11 minutes before the break.

Mourinho made four changes at half-time, with the defence most significantly altered as Ivanovic, Cahill and Azpilicueta were introduced for Aina, Terry and Traore respectively. In midfield, meanwhile, Mikel made way for Matic.

Having been forced into receiving treatment for the second time in the game, Moses was then withdrawn early in the second half and replaced by Ramires, who took up a position wide on the right with Cuadrado switching to the left-hand side.

Just before the hour we then made four further changes, as Loftus-Cheek, Oscar, Cuadrado and Falcao were replaced by Willian, Fabregas, Hazard and Loic Remy.

Remy was quickly into the action and saw what appeared to be a legitimate penalty appeal waved away after bringing down an Azpilicueta cross and attempting to get away from his man, while at the other end Josip Ilicic fired narrowly wide.

The movement of Hazard and Willian was beginning to cause problems for the visiting defence, and after the Belgian was brought down Cahill was unlucky not to draw us level as he rose to meet a Fabregas free-kick but saw his header saved.

It was all Chelsea as the game entered its closing stages and Remy was next to go close; the Frenchman taking a Ramires pass in his stride before checking back inside the defender and curling an effort inches wide of the far post.

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Begovic; Aina (Ivanovic h/t), Zouma, Terry (c) (Cahill h/t), Traore (Azpilicueta h/t); Mikel (Matic h/t), Loftus-Cheek (Willian 57); Cuadrado (Hazard 57), Oscar (Fabregas 57), Moses; Falcao (Remy 57).

Unused subs: Courtois, Blackman

Crowd 41,435

 

 

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