Chelsea's Under-19s recorded a comprehensive victory away at Malmo as we put five goals past our Swedish hosts.
It was a relatively even first half, but two goals from close range by Bryan Fiabema shortly before half-time changed the game completely.
As Malmo attempted to push forward to get back into the tie, space opened up and we made the most of it, with Lewis Hall and Alfie Gilchrist both adding to the score with headers before Charlie Webster smashed in the best goal of the day in the last minute, lashing a powerful volley in off the inside of the post.
The home team began strongly and nearly capitalised on some early indecision at the back from Chelsea to create the game’s first chance inside the first minute. A moment of miscommunication between Alfie Gilchrist and Josh Brooking at the back allowed Malmo’s Hugo Bolin to charge into the box down the left channel, but thankfully for Chelsea no light blue shirts were able to get on the end of his low pass across the face of goal.
We began to exert some pressure after that, though, with Dion Rankine and Jude Soonsup-Bell finding space to threaten down the right side, resulting in a series of early Chelsea corners, but we weren’t able to make them count in a first half that was mostly high on quality but low on chances.
Both teams were trying to play out from the back but facing a high press, with the Chelsea and Malmo goalkeepers both surviving scares with the ball at their feet. Most of the space for the Blues to play was coming out wide.
For Malmo’s part, the home side were trying to escape with quick passes into their forwards, Gilchrist having to be alert on one occasion to snuff out a chance as Isak Bjerkebo briefly looked like getting in behind our defence.
Shortly afterwards we were thankful for miscommunication in the Swedish ranks, as a chip into our box looked to have found a striker free at back post, but his team-mate tried to get there first and headed it behind for a goal-kick.
There was then a lengthy break in play as Malmo captain Melker Widell required treatment for a hip injury and when play resumed it did so with Chelsea back on the front foot, Rankine’s floated cross from the right just evading Bryan Fiabema at the back post.
As we reached the midway point in the first half, the Blues were delivering some promising crosses into the box, but struggling to get on the end of them. Our best opening arrived when a weak clearance from one of those crosses fell to Charlie Webster just inside the box, but his first-time effort was well blocked.
The best chance of the match so far arrived for Malmo, though, as a flowing passing move down the left ended with striker Bjerkebo being played in behind our defence in the box. However, Ted Sharman-Lowe saw the danger early and was quick off his line to save low at Bjerkebo’s feet.
There was nearly an instant response from the Blues as Soonsup-Bell rose highest to meet the latest in a constant stream of Chelsea corners, but his close-range header floated narrowly wide of the right-hand post.
Ahead by the break
The match was beginning to open up for both teams as we approached half-time, though, and Sharman-Lowe produced another good save to deny Bolin, this time low to his right to keep out a shot from just outside the box.
It had looked like the opening goal was getting closer and it came Chelsea’s way five minutes before half-time. Again it came from some good work in wide positions, as Rankine and Brooking combined to get free in the box by the touchline. Brooking stood the ball up with a chip towards the centre of the goal and Bryan Fiabema did well to beat two defenders to it and head in from close range.
The Norwegian nearly repeated the trick from a Webster cross just moments later, but this time it was a much tougher chance and he couldn’t get his header on target. The striker wasn’t to be discouraged, though, and did get his name on the score sheet a second time before the break. This time it was Silko Thomas getting free in a similar position on the left as Brooking had on the right for the first goal, although Thomas chose to cross low and, after a touch from the goalkeeper took the pace off it, Fiabema again beat the defenders to the ball to slide home our second goal.
Space opens up
Malmo came out for the second half looking to force their way back into the game, committing bodies forward, as Brooking had to be alert twice in quick succession to deny the home side shooting opportunities in our penalty area.
That was leaving space at the other end too, with Soonsup-Bell looking to stretch the Malmo defence by running the channels for quick passes forward, and the striker had a strong penalty appeal turned down by the referee.
Malmo were then angry with the officials themselves as they had a goal ruled out when Emil Lindman squared across goal at the end of a strong run down their left, but Bolin was flagged offside when he tapped in from close range.
In a bitter blow for the home team, Chelsea made it 3-0 just moments later. Another Thomas cross from the left curled into the box dangerously and Lewis Hall produced an excellent header, sending the ball down across goal into the bottom corner.
The Swedish side should really have pulled one back with 25 minutes remaining, when Lindman and Markus Bjorkqvist combined well and the latter latched on to a chipped pass over our defence, but he sliced his shot high and wide at the near post.
As the game wore on there were more chances being created at both ends of the pitch, but again it was Chelsea who took advantage of the situation as we took a four-goal lead.
When we were awarded a free-kick out wide on the left, Webster whipped a teasing cross into the box and defender Alfie Gilchrist got a glancing header to the ball to send it past the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.
There was still time for one final goal for Chelsea, though, and it was the pick of the bunch. When Edwin Andersson’s cross fell to Webster at the back post there was only one thing in his mind, as he smashed a low volley across goal and in off the far post, making the final score an emphatic 5-0.
Chelsea (3-4-1-2): Ted Sharman-Lowe; Joshua Brooking, Alfie Gilchrist, Brodi Hughes; Dion Rankine (Edwin Andersson 65), Xavier Simons (c) (Leo Castledine 65), Lewis Hall (Louis Flower 78), Silko Thomas; Charlie Webster; Jude Soonsup-Bell (Jayden Wareham 74), Bryan Fiabema (Joe Haigh 78)Unused subs: Prince Adegoke, Joshua TobinScorers: Fiabema 40, 44, Hall 58, Gilchrist 76, Webster 90Booked: Haigh 90+2
Malmo (4-3-3): Melker Ellborg; Pontus Stromberg, Lorik Konjuhi, Ludvig Nicklasson, Emil Lindman; August Karlin, Hugo Larsson, Markus Bjorkqvist; Melker Widell (Ajdin Avdic 74), Isak Bjerkebo, Hugo Bolin (Alexander Hughes 65)Unused subs: Viktor Andersson, Josef Al-Imam, Andre Alvarez Perez, Mans Braendshoi, Lass HamawandBooked: Nicklasson 88
Referee: Julian Weinberger