We were treated to an expertly slotted Andriy Shevchenko penalty, a vintage Gustavo Poyet goal plus French pair William Gallas and Florent Malouda finding the net in style on Sunday evening in Spain, where a Chelsea Legends team took on Real Madrid’s Leyendas in a charity match.
The match ended 5-4 to the Spanish side but considering this team of former Blues were 3-0 down with 20 minutes played against some equally famous faces in white, it was an impressive effort to make a true contest of it as the 80-minute match progressed, and there were plenty of moments reminiscent of past glories to enjoy.
The Chelsea Legends side in this form first saw action at the end of the 2017/18 season when we hosted Inter Forever, our equivalents from that Serie A club, at Stamford Bridge.
Just over a year on and we had been invited to the Spanish capital’s famous Estadio Santiago Bernabeu to provide the opposition for the 10th edition of Real’s annual charity clash - the Fiesta Corazon - to raise funds for their Foundation. And what occasion it proved to be!
The temperature inside the stadium was just as warm as expected for an early evening in Madrid in midsummer. The game was shaping up to be the survival of the fittest, and when the two sides were introduced one by one onto the pitch before the start the game, we had the unsettling sight of two bona fide Chelsea legends, Ricardo Carvalho and Claude Makelele, in the all-white of Real Madrid.
The two of course are also ex-Madridistas as well as being former Blues, and they did see sense during the first half and re-joined the club where each had played the longer part of his career.
After a band performance on the pitch and sky divers, the match kicked off in front of an impressive 60,000 attendance which stretched right up into the very top tier of the towering stands.
Of course these Chelsea players have performed on plenty of big stages in the past, and no one went closer to scoring with a shot in the opening minutes than our 2010 Double-winner Malouda in the opening stages of the game.
Carlo Cudicini, the man of the match with an outstanding array of saves in last year’s game versus Inter Forever, looked forever sharp himself in keeping out a shot by Real’s second-highest scorer of all-time, Raul, and a familiar foe from the past for Chelsea, Fernando Morientes, had a goal ruled out for offside. No VAR in Spain today!
Raul did have the ball in the net for the first goal of the game with 10 minutes on the clock – a bundled effort following two Chelsea attempts to (possibly illegally) end a run by the powerful Julio Baptista.
Shevchenko went close with a header but Morientes made it 2-0 after a slick move on 14 minutes. Chelsea steeled ourselves and put together some good attacking play but Morientes thundered in a header to make it 3-0.
At that stage, Chelsea followers were fearing for the final scoreline, but midway through the first half we had a goal back, from the penalty spot after Sheva had been brought down by Carvalho (that will teach the Portuguese for starting the game on the wrong side!). Sheva took it and rolled it in as he sent former Spurs goalie Cesar Sanchez the wrong way.
Only a minute later and we had pulled it back to 3-2, Poyet scoring the type of headed goal that was so familiar to those who watched the 49 he scored in his 145 games for us two decades ago. This one came from a cracking Florent Malouda cross.
Suddenly, Makelele and Carvalho were now in blue and playing for Chelsea. Tiago, nowadays the assistant manager at Real’s city rivals Atletico, went close to a Chelsea equaliser and Celestine Babayaro went even closer when he hit the bar from a tight angle.
But the promising Chelsea fight-back had a set-back when Desailly’s former team-mate from France’s 1998 World Cup win, Christian Karembeu, hammered the ball into the bottom corner of the Chelsea net from 30 yards out to make it 4-2.
That heralded the introduction of Dennis Wise, and at the start of the 40-minute second-half, Tore Andre Flo, who looked like he may score after one of Carvalho’s famous and glorious advances to join the attackers.
Gallas did make it 3-2 when finished off the move of the game. Wise, Poyet, Makelele and Tiago were all involved before Wise crossed for Gallas to touch the ball in from a tight angle.
But then from 4-3 it became 5-3 for Madrid when Raul beat Henrique Hilario from the penalty spot after a Makelele foul.
Gallas is certainly not short on energy these days. From another run from the back he headed over the Madrid goal. He was then back in his own penalty area making a brilliant block to prevent a sixth for the home side.
Finally, Gianfranco Zola, the coach for this game, brought himself on but it was Malouda with a shot hammered into the roof of the net, after he had sprinted on to a fine Tiago pass, that cut the deficit to one goal. It was 5-4 to Real Madrid, who as Chelsea attacked again and again, were wobbling.
Poor old Poyet’s intended rest was cut short when Wise was forced off. The Uruguayan had only just gone off himself nine minutes earlier.
Hilario saved two top-quality shots in the closing stages and Frank Sinclair, who along with Danny Granville added some class of ’98 English defending to the game, cleared a ball about to cross our goal-line.
We were also awarded a free-kick in prime Zola territory. Would this make it 5-5? Sadly the Sardinian did not keep his shot down so in the end it was a narrow defeat.
In the previous nine seasons Real have played this game they have not lost, and that continues, but Chelsea Legends gave them a very good challenge today, as well as played our part in a captivating game as the years were rolled back.
Chelsea Legends Carlo Cudicini (Henrique Hilario h-t); Frank Sinclair (Dennis Wise 39) (Gustavo Poyet 68), Marcel Desailly (c) (Ricardo Carvalho 28), William Gallas (Frank Sinclair 75) Juliano Belletti, Eddie Newton (Claude Makelele 28), Tiago, Celestine Babayaro (Danny Granville 33); Gustavo Poyet (Andriy Shevchenko 59); Florent Malouda, Andriy Shevchenko (Tore Andre Flo h-t) (Gianfranco Zola 63).
Scorers Shevchenko 23 pen, Poyet 34, Gallas 45, Malouda 66.
Real Madrid Legends Cesar Sanchez (Koke Contreras h-t), Alvaro Arbeloa (Jose Amavisca 66), Ricardo Carvalho (Ivan Campo 25), Fernando Sanz (Fernando Hierro h-t) (Victor Sanchez del Amo 50), Jose Amavisca (Antonio Nunez h-t), Christian Karembeu, Claude Makelele (Alberto Rivera 25), Raul (Javier Balboa 57), Guti (Julio Llorente 39), Fernando Morientes (Alfonso Perez 55), Julio Baptista (Edwin Congo 45).
Scorers Raul 11, 50 pen, Morientes 14, 20, Karembeu 36