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Match report: Chelsea 1 Liverpool 0

An early Gary Cahill goal was sufficient to divide these two Premier League sides in the first of our three matches in the United States.

The result meant a happier occasion for Antonio Conte inside the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, than when he was on the subs' bench here for Italy’s World Cup final defeat in 1994, but it was not all good news for the Blues as Cesc Fabregas was sent off during the second half of his first pre-season outing.

For his central midfield partner Nemanja Matic, and the whole defence there were full 90 minutes of action, and our rearguard reduced the Merseysiders, who had plenty of the ball in midfield, to one effort on target. That was from a free-kick.

Victor Moses, who has caught the eye this pre-season, started wide on the left against one of the clubs he has represented on loan, and he played an early first-time ball into the centre which Bertrand Traore tried to turn into the path of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, but it was cut out. The two 20-year-olds were paired together in attack.

Attacking down the right flank was Willian, who was chopped down by Alberto Moreno early on at the expense of the game’s first booking out of six, but it was the strong, direct running of Moses that won the corner from which the Blues took the lead. 

Cesc Fabregas delivered the ball in and despite being surrounded by three red shirts, no one could stop Cahill heading it home.

Unusually for one of these games in the United States, there was a clear red and a clear blue end at the stadium, and it was those massed behind Asmir Begovic’s goal who were cheering events at the other end of the pitch.

Willian took more punishment with Marko Grujic the player carded for the challenge, and when Liverpool later won a free-kick deep in our half, it was over-hit and drifted out of play. It had been a comfortable first 20 minutes for Conte’s men apart from the moment Willian lost the ball trying to launch a break from deep in his half, but Moreno was crowded out inside our box before he was able to shoot.

Begovic was called into action to save a Philippe Coutinho free-kick at full stretch on 22 minutes and Cesar Azpilicueta did well to head a threatening cross away. The Spaniard was playing left-back with Ola Aina at right-back having featured on the other side of the defence in Austria.   

Cahill, who was partnering John Terry in the middle, was booked for following through on Connor Randall. That was Chelsea’s one yellow card from the four shown in the first half.  

Liverpool could have equalised on 27 minutes had a pass not been played slightly behind the sprinting Roberto Firmino but Chelsea began to take control of the game again. Willian’s promising-looking centre was cut out for a corner. From that the pressure remained on until Moses hammered a 25-yarder not too far over.

Liverpool did put the ball in the Chelsea net with a crafty move but were denied by an offside call. The Blues too had a couple of attacks halted by the linesman’s flag as half-time drew close. Although we were deservedly in the lead at the whistle, clear-cut chances to extend the single-goal lead had been scarce.   

There were no changes for Chelsea at the start of the second half, which began in open fashion. Loftus-Cheek was threatening to burst through before Liverpool skipper Dejan Lovren brought him down to become Liverpool’s fourth caution of what was proving a strongly contested fixture. 

Lovren was in a different sort of trouble three minutes later. He took a punch on the side of the head from the Reds’ new keeper Loris Karlus as they tried to defend a Fabregas free-kick. The defender appeared to be severely dazed for a time before returning to the action but was one of a collection of Liverpool substitutions not long after.

Chelsea’s counter-attacking was showing promise and fresh legs were added when Conte introduced Juan Cuadrado, Michy Batshuayi and Pedro with a quarter of the game to go, but the Blues were soon a man down when Fabregas was shown a straight red for a late tackle on Ragner Klavan.

Nathaniel Chalobah came on for Loftus-Cheek to rebalance the side and although we came under pressure in the closing 10 minutes, the 10-men held out well.  

Chelsea (4-2-4): Begovic; Aina, Cahill, Terry (c), Azpilicueta; Fabregas, Matic; Willian (Pedro 67), Traore (Batshuayi 67), Loftus-Cheek (Chalobah 72), Moses (Cuadrado 67).
Scorer Cahill 10
Sent off Fabregas 70
Cahill 24

Liverpool Karius, Randall (Markovic 63), Lovren (c) (Wisdom 63), Klavan, Moreno (Branagan 82), Stewart (Arnold-Alexander 82), Ejaria (Henderson 63), Grujic (Lallana h-t), Mane (Ojo 63), Coutinho (Wisdom 63), Firmino (Ings 63).
Moreno 6, Grujic 12, Erajia 39, Lovren 53, Stewart 72. 

Referee Baidomero Toledo
Attendance 53.117


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