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Bangkok cruise for buoyant Chelsea


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Thailand All-Stars 0-4 Chelsea

Bangkok cruise for buoyant Chelsea

24th Jul 2011, In

Match Reports, by Alex Hinsley

Ivan-vs-Thailand.jpgAndré Villas-Boas' Chelsea side produced a much-improved attacking display as they dispatched the Thailand All-Stars thanks to goals from Frank Lampard, José Bosingwa, Branislav Ivanovic and Florent Malouda, continuing the Blues' perfect pre-season record under their new first-team coach.

Following mundane and uninspired performances against both Portsmouth and a Malaysian XI, Chelsea were impressive at times; moving the ball around intelligently with quick, incisive passing – something lacking from previous pre-season outings.

Having previously been using these pre-season fixtures predominantly for fitness, Villas-Boas again opted to use as many players as possible – the former Porto manager was again keen to give his starting eleven a greater duration out on the field, and John Obi Mikel and Josh McEachran were amongst those handed a starting berth who impressed with miserly displays.

Their play frustrated by sweltering heat and overwhelming humidity in Kuala Lumpur, the relative coolness of the Sunday evening Bangkok climate was a welcome change from both the adverse conditions of the previous match and even the monsoon downpours that welcomed the Blues' weekend arrival in Thailand – and that enabled the side to conjure up a vastly-superior performance to anything else seen before since the new manager's appointment.

Work must still be done, but the obvious improvement from the Wycombe and Portsmouth displays will offer much confidence to the Chelsea team. With improved performances comes goals, and morale soon follows – and Chelsea will only continue to improve in strength, form and speed of play as the summer progresses.

That aforesaid advancement in Chelsea's play was evident even throughout the course of this game; the Blues' second-half showing offered far much in an attacking sense, whilst the same defensive rigidity that has characterised their play this summer was rewarded with a fourth consecutive clean sheet was consistent from the first minute until the last.

The shut-out was achieved thanks largely to the performance of back-up stopper Henrique Hilario, who made a hat-trick of fine saves after the interval – whilst the game also heralded the return to action of Petr Cech between the posts for the West London side.

Aside from an early shot from the lively Nicolas Anelka that was collected with ease by the All-Star goalkeeper Tanganurat, the opening exchanges saw a sluggish start by both sides. The game's first real opportunity was wasted by a dragged effort from Sturridge, and yet whilst Petr Cech was largely untroubled – a single regulation stop aside – the All-Stars had at least offered far more going forward than either Malaysia or Portsmouth had done.

Worryingly, Fernando Torres was once again an isolated figure up front, with a lack of consistent service making his endeavours largely unrecognised. A shot snatched well wide of the goal summed up his anonymity, whilst at the other end some alert goalkeeping from Cech denied Opoku.

The ball was in the net on 25 minutes but John Terry's effort was wrongly ruled out when Anelka was adjudged to be in an offside position after receiving a clever pass from Frank Lampard, but the visiting side were not to be denied the goal their attacking display warranted as Lampard himself drilled home in trademark fashion from the edge of the area seven minutes before the break.

Further chances fell to Patrick van Aanholt and Fernando Torres, but the Dutchman had lashed over when well-placed in front of goal, and Torres was again the victim of frustration as his effort was blocked by some last-ditch defending by the impressive Kumbe.

Villas-Boas would typically have made a host of changes at the break, but he was keen to see his charges play for a greater period of time. That allowed the Blues to continue their momentum into the second half, and they were rewarded for their efforts with two goals inside seven minutes of the restart.

First Bosingwa saw a woeful cross pawed into his own net by the Thailand goalkeeper; the Portuguese player almost too embarrassed to claim the goal as his own as Tanganurat ridiculously parried the ball in to the net via the post for our number 17′s first goal in Chelsea colours since November 2008.

Then Branislav Ivanovic played a stupendous-yet-simple one-two with Josh McEachran before finishing low from twelve yards. The Serbian had won the ball back near the half-way line and exchanged passes with the young England starlet before striking home with conviction. Fernando Torres could only look on in envious fashion; having craved the same attacking supply, he had watched our centre half leisurely stroll up the pitch to fire home.

Hilario, who had come on as a substitute for Cech at half-time, then came to the fore as he denied the All-Stars a consolatory goal on three occasions. First he readjusted himself in superhuman time to claw out Tatong's effort, before spreading himself well to block Leandro dos Santos' stinging low drive.

Yet as Chelsea's momentum faded slightly as Villas-Boas took the hour mark as his cue to call the changes, Hilario's imperious form was ceaseless as he reacted late to a clever swerving free-kick by Siaka to pull off another parry that reflected the veteran's current confidence.

Following Hilario's hat-trick of saves, a trio of Chelsea substitutes combined to set up Yury Zhirkov in the box – but the Russian was denied by a decent save from the All-Stars keeper, who was still evidently disappointed with his part in the Bosingwa goal. Didier Drogba then headed over before Ashley Cole threaded the perfect through-ball into Florent Malouda's path; the result an emphatic finish for Chelsea's fourth goal.

The lead ought to have been extended but the continuously questionable officiating was again highlighted as Drogba saw a tap-in ruled as offside despite there being no apparent infringement. Jamal Blackman, Billy Clifford, Slo Rajkovic and Nathaniel Chalobah were amongst the second half replacements as Villas-Boas continued to offer his young starlets further first-team opportunities on tour, and the game petered out to a conclusion obvious since the moment Lampard fired home in the 38th minute without much say from either line-up.

The Blues will only continue to improve with further match experience, and Hong Kong division one champions Kitchee are the side's next opponents in the Barclays Asia Trophy. Villas-Boas, pleased with his side's performance, has confirmed that those who were amongst the substitutes today will form the backbone of Wednesday's starting eleven – here's hoping the winning run continues and the goals remain flowing.


Thailand All-Stars: Tanganurat, Prakopkong, A dos Santos (Jitsawad 89), Onmo (L dos Santos 53), Kumbe (Tatong 43), Acheampong (Kushida 53), Chaiman (Sriha 53), Khonchan (Wangsawat 53), Siaka, Florent (Chutong 89), Iamwiroj

Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech (Hilario 46 (Blackman 76)); Bosingwa (Ferreira 61), Ivanovic (Chalobah 76), Terry © (Rajkovic 61), Van Aanholt (Cole 61); McEachran (Zhirkov 61), Mikel (Clifford 76), Lampard (Benayoun 61); Anelka (Kalou 61), Torres (Drogba 61), Sturridge (Malouda 61)

The TalkChelsea.net 'Man of the Match' was Chelsea's #12: JOHN MIKEL OBI

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Thought the first half was a dull, insipid affair. We held a high line and defended narrow, a dangerous combination if we're actually looking at it as a part of play. Played better in the second half, of which there are 2 reasons imo - 1. Not making wholesale changes at HT 2. The lads probably got a bollocking from AvB during the interval. Josh and Mikel were the standout players I think.

Great report Al.

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Thanks for reading + commenting, rep for you all.

@zolayes, haha, Mikel was probably our stand-out man today. The choice was hard as there were a few who played well given the circumstances, such as limited match time. But for me, Mikel and Josh were the two to stand out.

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I thought the rhyming couplets sounded too cheesy so I went for the dual alliteration of BC-BC instead :P

:lol: Nothing is too cheesy for an article headline.

being pedantic ...but it's BUOYANT

:doh: So it is zolayes, I need to learn how to spell before I start offering up grammatical improvements to Alex.

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:lol: Nothing is too cheesy for an article headline.

:doh: So it is zolayes, I need to learn how to spell before I start offering up grammatical improvements to Alex.

I welcome the constructive criticism... with a sense of irony in this case :lol::D

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