Our development squad came from behind to win their group opener in the Premier League International Cup this evening (Tuesday).
An early goal from Bilal Basacikoglu handed Feyenoord a half-time advantage but the Blues were dogged and persistent, benefiting from a numerical advantage when Basacikoglu was dismissed for a second booking with half an hour remaining. That set the scene for a grandstand finish which was duly delivered in the final exchanges as Dujon Sterling and Fikayo Tomori won the game for the hosts.
There were five changes from the weekend league draw at Manchester City, with the back five unchanged and striker Ike Ugbo continuing to lead the line up front. He was supported by Josimar Quintero, Miro Muheim and Jacob Maddox, the latter pair from wide areas and the Ecuadorean in the number 10 midfield role.
Bradley Collins kept his place between the sticks protected by a back four of captain Fankaty Dabo, Tomori, Trevoh Chalobah and Jay Dasilva. Ruben Sammut (pictured top) partnered Marco van Ginkel in central midfield. Feyenoord came into the tie on the back of an opening group defeat at Swansea and so the stakes were raised somewhat further for the Dutchmen with just two group games remaining.
Yet it was the Blues who settled quickest on a freezing cold night at Aldershot, following a minute’s silence observed in respect to the victims of the Colombian aeroplane crash. The advancing Dasilva went close with the game’s first effort at goal, a curling right-footed strike that flew narrowly over the angle of post and crossbar.
The visitors featured several starters with first-team experience and it was one of that selection, Turkish Under-21 international Basacikoglu, who fired them in front after 12 minutes. The midfielder fashioned himself into a generous amount of space 30 yards out before unleashing a dipping drive that arrowed beyond Collins and into the back of the net.
It could and perhaps should have been 1-1 moments later as Muheim escaped to the left byline and delivered a teasing centre into the box. Quintero was the man who had roamed into space but his close-range header failed to trouble Warnar Hahn in the Feyenoord goal.
Dabo and Chalobah were forced into smart defending as the visitors caused us problems with their variety in attack, while their clever pressing in numbers and at the right times made it difficult for Viveash’s side to build up play from the back in their usual manner.
Chances were fashioned down both ends before the break. Ugbo fired high and wide after some determined work had regained possession, while Quintero saw an attempt tipped behind by the goalkeeper after a well-worked move involving Muheim.
Collins did well to reach down low to his right to push away Mohamed El Hankouri’s strike after a clever headed layoff by Gustavo Hamer but he could only watch minutes before the break as Simon Gustafson hooked the ball a foot over the bar after a precise cross from Basacikoglu.
The action restarted with immediate drama as Hahn was penalised for picking up a back pass from one of his own defenders. After much deliberation, Muheim laid the indirect free-kick back to Van Ginkel but the 23-year-old’s powerful effort was somehow kept out.
Muheim then shot over after advancing dangerously into the 18-yard box before goalscorer Basacikoglu was dismissed from the action prematurely after receiving a second booking. Just like at the weekend at City, that handed Viveash’s side the opportunity to hunt an equaliser with a man advantage.
As anticipated, the home side controlled proceedings for the remaining 30 minutes but Feyenoord remained resilient and hard-working from back to front. Hahn punched clear a dangerous Dasilva delivery aimed for Ugbo before another cross from the left narrowly evaded Van Ginkel and substitute Mason Mount before diverting inches past the far post.
Chalobah headed wide and Van Ginkel fired into the side-netting as our frustrations grew but there was relief all around with two Chelsea goals in as many minutes late on. The leveller arrived after 84 minutes when Dasilva's bending low free-kick was only parried back into the danger zone by Hahn, where Sterling was on hand to divert the loose ball in.
Less than 60 seconds later and it was 2-1. Another substitute, Martell Taylor-Crossdale, played a pivotal part as he supplied from the right and Tomori turned the ball into the far corner after a well-timed run towards the front post (pictured above).
It earned the Blues a well-deserved three points to mark a strong start to the competition, a result mustered through sheer detemination and persistance. They face Dinamo Zagreb in their second group game on Friday 16 December.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1) Bradley Collins; Fankaty Dabo (c), Trevoh Chalobah, Fikayo Tomori, Jay Dasilva; Marco van Ginkel (Martell Taylor-Crossdale 79), Ruben Sammut; Jacob Maddox (Dujon Sterling 65), Josimar Quintero, Miro Muheim (Mason Mount 70); Ike Ugbo
Unused subs Joseph Colley, Jared Thompson, Mukhtar Ali, Isaac Christie-Davies
Scorers Sterling 84; Tomori 85
Feyenoord (4-3-3) Warnar Hahn; Bart Nieuwkoop, Wessel Dammers, Mats Knoester, Lucas Woudenberg; Marko Vejinovic (c), Simon Gustafson, Gustavo Hamer (Nigel Robertha 74); Bilal Basacikoglu, Mohamed El Hankouri (Tyreil Malacia 65), Steven Berghuis
Unused subs Ramon ten Houe, Dylan Wenle, Emil Hansson, Robin Zwaet Jens
Scorer Basacikoglu 12
Booked Basacikoglu, Nieuwkoop, Hamer, Dammers
Sent off Basacikoglu 58