Antonio Rudiger stepped up his return to match fitness with 90 minutes for our development squad on Monday evening at Stamford Bridge, while Michy Batshuayi’s brace helped seal the points and extend our 100 per cent winning start to the season.
The pair were named in the starting team by Andy Myers and more than played their part in a dominant performance against Liverpool in Premier League 2. Rudiger contributed to a second consecutive clean sheet for the youngsters, while Batshuayi’s goals either side of half-time helped us on the way to victory.
Tino Anjorin added a third late on to cap a good night’s work, with Frank Lampard in the stands to see the young Blues record an impressive win.
Rudiger and Batshuayi were among the starters for the Blues on a balmy summer evening in west London, with the German making his first appearance in a Chelsea shirt since limping off against Manchester United in late April. He started alongside skipper Marc Guehi in central defence, with Tariq Lamptey and Ian Maatsen operating at full-back.
Jamie Cumming returned between the sticks, while Batshuayi lined up in attack supported by Tariq Uwakwe, Anjorin and Juan Castillo. In central midfield, Billy Gilmour partnered Clinton Mola as Myers’s men looked to make it three wins from three at the start of the new season.
It was a positive start from the hosts, with Castillo inches away from providing a tap-in for Batshuayi inside the opening minute and Morgan Boyes clearing the danger with a last-ditch effort as Castillo searched for Anjorin with a clever clipped pass.
Our endeavours down the wings in particular were reaping rewards and Lamptey went closest in the opening half hour, jinking into the box before working the ball back onto his favoured right foot. His angled strike was placed promisingly towards the bottom corner but Reds keeper Caoimhin Kelleher made a smart save down low to the right.
The first period was proving reminiscent of some recent outings from the senior men’s team, with plenty of opportunities carved out but a finishing touch in front of goal lacking. Gilmour stung the palms of Kelleher with a fierce effort from distance after 25 minutes, before Anjorin then Gilmour fired straight at the keeper.
With half-time looming, the Blues finally broke the deadlock to take a deserved lead into the break. Rudiger supplied the long pass over the top for Batshuayi, who was clattered by Kelleher as he trapped the ball under his control, though the striker quickly returned to his feet before nonchalantly clipping his finish into the unguarded goal.
The 25-year-old could have notched a second before the interval as Castillo again supplied a teasing delivery from the left but he failed to keep his effort on target.
Yet he was soon celebrating again two minutes into the second half after finishing off a lovely attacking move down the left. From Maatsen to Castillo and then into Anjorin, the Blues moved the ball purposefully before Batshuayi was teed up to rifle the ball high into the roof of the net to make it 2-0.
Liverpool failed to provide a serious threat to Cumming’s goal for most of the evening and their busier players remained in defence and in goal. Irish stopper Kelleher denied Batshuayi a hat-trick with an impressive close-range stop, using his feet to keep out the striker’s effort following Maatsen’s low cross. On the rebound, Anjorin drove a left-footed shot against the top of the crossbar.
Rudiger then had Kelleher scrambling across his goal-line after 70 minutes as our big defender rose highest in the box but couldn’t hit the target with his header, while Uwakwe rattled the post with a strike from a narrow angle.
Anjorin rounded off the scoring with a deserved goal of his own with 15 minutes remaining, the 17-year-old collecting the ball from Batshuayi before cutting inside the defender and finishing calmly into the corner of the net.
The result sees Myers’s side move up to second in the early PL2 standings, with a trip to Manchester City up next on Friday evening. Our next outing at the Bridge is on Friday 13 September against Brighton and tickets for that game are available to purchase now, priced once again at £5 for adults and free for concessions.
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Chelsea (4-2-3-1) Jamie Cumming; Tariq Lamptey, Antonio Rudiger, Marc Guehi (c), Ian Maatsen; Clinton Mola (George McEachran 77), Billy Gilmour; Tariq Uwakwe (Thierno Ballo 75), Tino Anjorin (Marcel Lavinier 84), Juan Castillo; Michy BatshuayiUnused subs Karlo Ziger, Charlie BrownScorers Batshuayi 40, 47; Anjorin 74
Liverpool Caoimhin Kelleher, Ki-Jana Hoever (Neco Williams 64), Yasser Larouci (Tony Gallacher 64), Seep van den Berg, Morgan Boyes, Herbie Kane, Harvey Elliott, Elijah Dixon-Bonner, Rhian Brewster (Bobby Duncan 64) Adam Lewis, Curtis Jones (c)Unused subs Dan Atherton, Tom ClaytonBooked Kane
Referee Gary Parsons
-Additional pictures courtesy of Mark Sandom and Dan Davies