Our Under-21s ran out comfortable winners over Queens Park Rangers during a Cobham friendly this afternoon (Tuesday).
A side featuring first team players Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Baba Rahman and Bertrand Traore, plus those who have played out on loan this term such as Christian Atsu and Patrick Bamford, hit five past their visitors from Rangers courtesy of a brace from Bamford, strikes from Charly Musonda and Atsu, plus an own goal.
Musonda, one of four Under-21 regulars among the starting line-up, looked lively from the opening and had an early free-kick deflected away from danger before teeing up Atsu to find the back of the net, although the Ghanaian was adjudged narrowly offside.
Bamford fired a left-foot strike just wide before the 22-year-old was denied by a super, late challenge after another Musonda effort was parried. The striker then headed over as Atsu delivered a teasing cross from the right as the Blues dominated first-half proceedings.
QPR featured some first team names of their own, including Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Suk-Young Yun, however Chelsea, with our first team management watching prior to afternoon training, attacked with confidence and created numerous opportunities.
Their control paid dividends with two goals in the final minutes of the half as Musonda curled a brilliant free-kick into the top corner before Bamford’s rising shot flew beyond the goalkeeper in the final minute of the first period after neat interplay involving Loftus-Cheek and Jordan Houghton.
It was 3-0 within 10 minutes of the restart as Bamford rifled an effort into the bottom corner following wonderful play between Musonda and Traore down the left flank. The young Belgian had been bundled over and the referee was in the process of blowing his whistle for a penalty when Bamford bagged his brace.
Atsu had caused problems down the right flank throughout and assisted for our fourth just after the hour mark as his fierce low centre was sliced into his own net by an unfortunate covering defender. Collins was then forced into a rare intervention to preserve his clean sheet, racing off his line to make a stop with his feet.
Traore and substitute Kasey Palmer went close to extending the advantage late on before the former turned provider for Atsu to finish with aplomb as the youngsters capped a commanding performance with a five-goal win.
Adi Viveash's side return to competitive action on Thursday 28 January when they travel to face Tottenham in the Premier League International Cup. Before then, our Under-18s' defence of the FA Youth Cup continues with a fourth-round trip to Manchester United this Friday 22 January. The cup tie is being screened live on Chelsea TV.
Chelsea Bradley Collins; Fankaty Dabo, Ola Aina, Alex Davey, Baba Rahman; Jordan Houghton, Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Tika Musonda); Christian Atsu, Charly Musonda (Kasey Palmer), Bertrand Traore; Patrick Bamford (Alex Kiwomya)
Scorers Musonda 44; Bamford 45, 55; own-goal 62; Atsu 87