A brace for Christian Pulisic and a quite extraordinary Pedro goal were the highlights as Chelsea produced an exhilerating pre-season performance in Austria.
Our hosts RB Salzburg’s league campaign has already started and though it was they who began the brighter, Chelsea soon seized the initiative and surged into a three-goal lead.
Pulisic netted his first goal in a Blues shirt with an accomplished finish, and our new American star was immediately brought down inside the box for a penalty Ross Barkley converted with aplomb.
The midfielder shone in front of our former no.8 Frank Lampard, and it was Barkley’s exquisite pass that set up Pulisic for his second and our third of the night with not even half-an-hour played. The passing and movement of the Chelsea players was too hot for the Austrians to handle, with Pulisic wide left and Barkley through the middle especially dangerous.
Salzburg did respond after the break from a corner, but Pedro soon made it 4-1 with a goal to make you gasp. His volleyed backflick from Barkley’s cross was pure genius and will take some beating in 2019/20!
There was time for three more goals, two scored by Salzburg sub Takumi Minamino and the other by our own Michy Batshuayi, whose persistence paid off with time running out.
So another entertaining friendly for Frank and the boys in front of the watching Roman Abramovich. We're back in action on Saturday against Borussia Monchengladbach, over the German border, when more goals can be expected!
The starting XI contained eight members of the team who had finished Sunday’s win over Reading, but one who hadn’t was Kepa, and the Spaniard was called into action early on to comfortably save the first effort of the night.
A pass split our defence open but a recovery tackle from Emerson, then an important hand from Kepa, and finally a clearance from near the goal-line by David Luiz made it a trio of crucial defensive interventions.
Emerson found Pedro whose first-time pass was too close to Cican Stankovic, but there was nothing the Salzburg stopper could do about Pulisic’s opener.
The American checked back after latching on to a Pedro pass, allowing two defenders to run beyond him. He then took his time before calmly picking his spot, arrowing the ball into the bottom left-hand corner.
Barely two minutes later we doubled our advantage. Pulisic was again heavily involved, brought down inside the box by a desperate challenge as he threatened to race clear and score again. Barkley was on penalty duty and emphatically scored low to the keeper’s right.
That pair combined for goal number three and it was a thing of beauty. Barkley picked up a throw from Kepa deep inside his half and hit a swerving, diagonal long pass to Pulisic, whose first-time chest control invited him to run goalwards. He still had plenty of ground to cover but gobbled it up before dinking the ball over Stankovic. It was a finish of the type that made Eidur Gudjohnsen’s name.
Chelsea, in full flow now against opponents unafraid of committing men forward, nearly made it 4-0 on 35 minutes. Pulisic released the overlapping Emerson whose thunderous effort was tipped over the bar by Stankovic. Tammy Abraham then had his first sight of goal but headed over.
Kepa, who hadn’t been much involved since the early exchanges, was called into action once more before the break, and how. Dominic Szoboszlai’s 25-yard free-kick was goalbound but our Spanish no.1 flew through the air to magnificently turn it round the post with a strong left hand.
Lampard made no changes at half-time, in stark contrast to his opposite number Jesse Marsch who made 11, but the theme of conceding from set-pieces continued shortly after the interval when Jerome Onguene headed a corner in from six yards.
Smiles were soon back on Chelsea faces. It was Barkley again with the supply line having found a pocket of space wide on the left. His cross was good; what followed was extraordinary. Mid-air and running across goal, Pedro somehow backflicked a volley high beyond sub keeper Philipp Kohn, generating extra power as he did it.
There followed a quieter passage of play as the sting was taken out of proceedings, but another fine Chelsea move with 20 minutes remaining nearly resulted in Pulisic completing his treble. Only a sliding intervention by Kohn to intercept Azpilicueta’s low centre prevented the American reaching that landmark. He and four of his team-mates were replaced not long after, and another flurry of subs included the introduction of Andreas Christensen in midfield.
Davide Zappacosta was another who came on and he was penalised for a foul inside the box with time almost up. Sub Minamino slammed home from 12 yards.
Our advantage was only briefly cut back to two goals. We pinched possession high up the pitch and Pedro fed Batshuayi who was initially thwarted by Kohn, but kept plugging away and created space to thrash the ball high into the net. 5-2!
It was in fact Salzburg who had the final word with the scrappiest goal of the game, Minamino getting his second after his initial shot was saved by Kepa but ricocheted back off him and in. Still, this was Chelsea's night and another enjoyable pre-season run-out with the big kick-off 10 days away now.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Kepa; Azpilicueta (c) (Zappacosta 82), Zouma, David Luiz (Tomori 75), Emerson (Alonso 75); Jorginho (Kenedy 75), Kovacic (Christensen 81); Pedro, Barkley, Pulisic (Mount 75); Abraham (Batshuayi 75).
Unused subs Caballero, Cumming, Giroud.
Scorers Pulisic 20, 28, Barkley (pen) 23, Pedro 57, Batshuayi 88
Booked Zouma 41
RB Salzburg (first half): Stankovic, Ashimeru, Samassekou, Hwang, Szoboszlai, Ulmer, Camara, Haaland, Pongracic, Kristensen, Mwepu.
RB Salzburg (second half): Kohn, Farkas, Van der Werff, Onguene, Mensah, Junozovic, Bernede, Diarra, Okugawa (Minamino 75), Daka, Koita.
Scorers Onguene 50, Minamino (pen) 86, 90+1
Referee Christopher Jager