The Blues recorded our first win of the Antonio Conte era against WAC RZ Pellets in Klagenfurt tonight as goals from Bertrand Traore and substitutes Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Nathaniel Chalobah secured a 3-0 victory.
There was further positivity with the head coach able to hand Michy Batshuayi his first action in a Chelsea shirt while providing the majority of his squad with valuable game time.
Conte opted to make three changes to the side which started Saturday’s game against Rapid Vienna, one of which saw Ola Aina, who performed well as a second-half substitute at the weekend, come in for Baba Rahman at left-back. Oscar and Traore were also handed their first starts of pre-season, with John Mikel Obi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek making way . Those players who only joined up with the squad yesterday weren’t involved at all.
A couple of decent crosses by wide men Willian and Victor Moses in the opening couple of minutes caused panic in the WAC defence as the Blues started the game on the front foot, while Diego Costa was unlucky not to connect with a teasing Branislav Ivanovic delivery.
We were moving the ball well and should have taken the lead after 13 minutes when a penetrating run by Willian ended with the Brazilian laying the ball off to Moses, who controlled it with his first touch before firing against the foot of the post.
A minute later Moses turned provider, pulling the ball back for Traore who scooped his effort up and over the bar from a great position.
Unsurprisingly, the Blues were totally dominant in terms of possession but WAC went close when Thomas Zundel fizzed a shot from distance past Asmir Begovic’s right-hand post.
Formation-wise, we started the game in the same way as we ended Saturday’s, playing 4-2-4. Nemanja Matic was partnered by Oscar in central midfield, with Traore and Diego Costa deployed as the strike partnership.
Willian, on the right, and Moses, on the opposite flank, were playing very high up the pitch, although on the rare occasions WAC were in possession they dropped deeper, making the formation more of a 4-4-2.
Papy Djilobodji, who started alongside John Terry for the second consecutive game, headed down and into the arms of WAC ‘keeper Kofler Alexander from a Willian corner and at the other end Begovic saved a curling free-kick by Wernitznig Christopher.
The breakthrough eventually came four minutes before half-time as Traore made it 1-0 from close range.
Moses did brilliantly out on the left, driving at the WAC defence with a powerful run before switching it inside to Diego Costa. The striker, on the run, lost out, but when the ball was worked back outside to Willian his cross was forced over the line by Traore.
A second goal almost followed immediately but Alexander did well to tip Diego Costa’s low drive around the post following good work once again by Willian.
Baba replaced Branislav Ivanovic in what was a solitary change at the break, allowing Aina to move to right-back.
Diego Costa was appealing for a penalty inside the first couple of minutes of the second half after being bundled over as he attempted to meet a Willian cross, and moments later he was almost put clean through by Matic, only for the touch of a defender to take the Serbian’s pass away from him.
WAC hadn’t had many clear-cut chances up until this point, but a glorious one went begging when Baldauf Dario stole in at the far post unmarked and headed into the side netting.
Just before the hour, Batshuayi was handed his first minutes in a Chelsea shirt as the Belgian striker replaced Diego Costa, while at the same time Loftus-Cheek and Michael Hector came on for Traore and Djilobodji.
Two of the subs quickly combined to carve out a decent opportunity, Loftus-Cheek dispossessing a WAC defender and releasing Batshuayi, who showed great pace to get away from his man before his subsequent strike was deflected over the bar.
With both Traore and Diego Costa having gone off, it was Loftus-Cheek playing alongside Batshuayi and the England Under-21 man was looking threatening every time he was in possession.
Willian slipped Batshuayi through on goal with a clever pass and after rounding Alexander the substitute teed up Moses, whose effort was somehow diverted away to safety by 17-year-old Augustin.
The second goal came six minutes from time when Loftus-Cheek displayed immense bravery to power a header into the back of the net from a Moses corner, while Chalobah completed the scoring with the last action of the game, driving into the box and firing low and hard into the far corner.
Chelsea: Begovic, Ivanovic, Terry (c) (Miazga 89), Djilobodji (Hector 58), Aina, Oscar (Chalobah 73), Matic (Mikel 85), Willian (Atsu), Traore (Loftus-Cheek 58), Moses (Kenedy 89), Diego Costa (Batshuayi 58).
Unused subs: Blackman, Delac, Cuevas, Remy .