A penalty conceded late in the first half and an open-play strike even later in the second half cost Chelsea Under-19s dear in the afternoon game held at Lille’s training ground.
Andy Myers’ team had drawn our UEFA Youth League opener against Valencia at Cobham so were hoping for points today and they dominated the game. The woodwork was struck by Tino Anjorin in the first half and then again by Joe Haigh late in the game but despite being on top, the young Blues created less after the break and paid a price for that, and for the spot-kick awarded completely against the run of play and then allowing a substitute to score immediately after coming on as we chased an equaliser.The Chelsea side featured recent debutants in our senior side Marc Guehi, Billy Gilmour and Ian Maatsen, plus Anjorin. After a largely uneventful first quarter-of-an-hour it was Chelsea with the first effort on goal, smashed over by Tariq Lamptey after the right-back had combined well with Thierno Ballo down that side of the pitch.
Despite losing midfielder George McEachran to illness immediately prior to the game, the young Blues controlled the opening stages and midway through the first half were gifted a chance to open the scoring but centre-forward Armando Broja could not beat the goalkeeper with his low shot.With half-an-hour gone Chelsea did hit the net, when Broja stretched out a leg to divert in a ball forward by Anjorin, but the offside flag was up. What was noticeable was the Ballo-Lamptey combination on the right had opened Lille up again, with Xavier Simons, the player who had replaced McEachran just before kick-off, also proving to be part of that link.When Lille failed to clear a Lamptey cross five minutes before the break, Anjorin pounced but his shot hit the near post with a resounding thump.Yet it was Chelsea who went in at half-time one goal down. There had been little from Lille to suggest they had a means to threaten our goal but when a long ball dropped into our penalty area, Blues goalie Nicolas Tie opted to come for it and he collided with the home team’s Aguibou Camara.Penalty said the Finnish referee. Centre-forward Noah Fatar converted and it was 1-0 to the hosts. Broja could have put us level before the whistle blew but volleyed wide at the near post.Ballo had long shot saved at the start of the second half and we continued to probe down our right, but the final pass to create a further equalising chance was lacking.
There had been a change early in the half to allow George Nunn to move from the wing to spearhead the attack but a switch of shape with quarter-of-an-hour to go moved Ballo more central.With time running out we hit the woodwork for the second time in the game. The ball pinged around the Lille penalty area after Gilmour delivered a free-kick and Guehi saw a close-range effort very well saved. Needing to react quickly, substitute Joe Haigh hit the post.Tie between the posts for the Blues kept out a Lille long-range punt, but he was left unprotected when Fadiga Ouattara came on in added time and was allowed through to score with his first touch and make the points secure for Lille.
Chelsea Nicolas Tie; Tariq Lamptey, Marc Guehi (c), Clinton Mola, Ian Maatsen; Thierno Ballo, Xavier Simons (Dion Rankine 86), Billy Gilmour, George Nunn (Joe Haigh 75); Tino Anjorin; Armando Broja (Henry Lawrence 55).Unused subs Karlo Ziger, Levi Colwill, Dynel Simeu, Marcel Lewis.Booked Ballo 8, Anjorin 78, Maatsen
Lille Chevalier; Kanda, Niasse (c), Innocenti, Bouleghcha; Camara (Ouattara 90+2), Niandu, Longonda (Majid 75), Bardelli; Cogalan (Mandefu 55), Fatar.Unused subs Dejonge, Bangoura, Ben Hamed, BoulScorers Fatar 45+1 pen, Ouattara 90+2Booked Nlandu 26, Ouattara 90+3