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Brilliant Benayoun inspires Blues


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Kitchee 0-4 Chelsea

Brilliant Benayoun inspires Blues

27th Jul 2011, In

Match Reports, by Alex Hinsley

Ash-Drog-Flo.jpgYossi Benayoun played a staring role as Chelsea beat Hong Kong champions Kitchee in the Barclays' Asia Trophy, as the Blues continued their perfect record under new boss André Villas-Boas- setting up a final showdown with Alex McCleish's Aston Villa on Saturday afternoon in the process.

The Israeli star was influential throughout, and he inspired the Blues to their second 4-0 demolition inside a week as he was hacked down inside the penalty area – Frank Lampard duly converting from the spot with trademark aplomb. A third own goal in four fixtures and a first strike for Didier Drogba on tour saw the attacking endeavours of Villas-Boas' charges well rewarded, before Daniel Sturridge completed the rout with a wonderful late strike to continue the Portuguese manager's perfect pre-season record at the helm of the West London side.

Still to concede a goal under his tenure, Villas-Boas will be most-pleased with his side's attacking performance; particularly with the effervescent Drogba finding the net with a brave header mid-way-through the second half. Seeing the Ivorian and Frank Lampard both back amongst the goals will be a relieving sight for Blues supporters worldwide, but Fernando Torres' woes continued as he was denied at the death by the width of a post as he unleashed a low drive against the frame of the goal.

Continuing to improve on the fitness of his squad, the manager opted to reverse the roles from Sunday's thrashing of the Thailand All-Stars, with all those who started at the weekend – Lampard and captain John Terry besides – relegated to the bench. That meant a start between the posts for Ross Turnbull, whilst Ashley Cole, Salomon Kalou, Benayoun and the excellent Paulo Ferreira would go on to complete the full 90 minutes – thankfully for all involved, in far cooler conditions than the ferocious humidity of the two previous fixtures.

The benefits of rigorous conditioning work were evident throughout with the visitors – who were donning their elegant new black away kit for the first time – continuing to press and harry their at times overwhelmed opponents. A competent team display continues along the trend set by the Thailand All-Stars friendly – form and confidence are in hot pursuit of the gradually-improving physical condition of the team.

One concern for the new man in the hot-seat is the form of Torres – and questions must be raised as to whether it is the striker himself or merely a lack of sufficient support for the £50 million Spaniard. But with Benayoun continuing to supply the attacking thrust with intelligent incisive play from midfield, Lampard's range of passing and Florent Malouda's delivery from out wide – which today seemed to be back to the Frenchman's pacey and accurate best – it is indeed cause for concern that our number 9 continues to toil in front of goal.

In truth, the game was little more than a training ground knock-about for the Blues. Though credit has to be awarded to the local side for their resolute defending, the gap between the two sides was evident throughout – even though Chelsea still have several more gears to find before the start of the season.

But with performances improving and the goals continuing to flow, Villas-Boas will find this performance a satisfactory one as his side continue to build on the foundations already set by previous exhibition matches against Wycombe, Portsmouth, a Malaysian XI and the Thailand All-Stars in previous weeks.

Yury Zhirkov started in midfield and it was the diminutive Russian who had the game's first effort; a stinging volley which hit the stanchion behind the goal. Further efforts from Lampard – who tested the goalkeeper from range – and a Salomon Kalou header which hit the crossbar saw Chelsea press the issue and look for the early breakthrough. Kalou had been particularly unlucky as he headed Didier Drogba's superb delivery from out wide into the divot-strewn surface of the Hong Kong Stadium, only to see it bounce up onto the frame of the goal. Nevertheless, Chelsea were looking menacing with their front three posing a massive threat to the local side.

Relatively untroubled at the other end, it took the visitors 35 minutes to finally break their opponents down. Some nimble footwork inside the penalty area from Yossi Benayoun proved too much for one Kitchee defender, who haplessly scythed down the Israeli midfielder – and Frank Lampard opened the scoring for the second time in two games as he effortlessly slotted the ball down the centre of the goal from 12 yards.

The Blues were unfortunate not to extend their lead before the interval as Drogba produced an unorthodox save from the goalkeeper with a swerving, deceiving free-kick which Wang Zhenpang barely managed to claw out from underneath his crossbar. A further reprieve for the Hong Kong champions came as Florent Malouda saw a hooked effort bundled off the line by what looked suspiciously like an arm by one of the Kitchee defenders – thankfully for the home supporters, it went unnoticed by Phil Dowd and his linesmen.

Drogba was continuing to revel in his first start of pre-season, and it was he that once more played the role of chief mischief-maker following the break. Renowned for his dead-ball speciality, Drogba saw a second free-kick caress the roof of the net before he bullied defender Ubay Luzardo into shinning the ball into his own net after more good play out wide from Malouda. With the Blues faithful calling for more consistency from the widemen, an improved performance from our number 15 will hopefully spark another period of prominence from the ex-Lyon winger.

Chelsea were firmly in control and the players thoroughly enjoying every second of a professional team performance. It was Malouda and Drogba who successfully combined once more for the third goal; this time Drogba scoring himself. After seeing his free-kick cannon off the post and in via the goalkeeper against the Malaysian XI and again playing a key role in another own goal mere moments beforehand, the Ivorian bravely dived in to head home despite being under intense pressure to record his first goal of pre-season and throw the gauntlet down to the out-of-sorts Torres.

That was to Didier's last involvement in the game as he was hauled off – but an impressive display and a goal will no doubt reaffirm Drogba's position as our undisputed first-choice striker as Torres could only continue to toil in his stead. A late drive that kissed the woodwork rather than nestling in the bottom corner underlined the stroke of luck that has since deserted the Spaniard, and whilst Torres' work-rate was celebrated by the Asian supporters in the stands, it was Daniel Sturridge who had already stolen the headlines with a quite superb solo goal to wrap up proceedings.

Beating two defenders with sublime ball control before ruthlessly lashing home, Sturridge had once again demonstrated the qualities that had transformed him from bench-warmer to local hero in his short loan spell under Owen Coyle at Bolton. A fair save late on from Kalou by the home side's goalkeeper kept the score moderately respectable, whilst Torres and Sturridge were wasteful with additional set-piece opportunities.

The plaudits will go to the goalscorers for clinically-taken chances and impressive showings all-round, but the biggest round of applause must be dedicated to the excellent Benayoun, who was a consistent attacking threat throughout. Paulo Ferreira and Ashley Cole – the latter taking the armband from John Terry in the 64th minute – were at their consistent attacking best whilst young centre-back Slo Rajkovic impressed once more with what seems to be a typically-Serbian, no-nonsense defensive display.

More work obviously has to be done, and a sterner examination of the progress made under Villas-Boas will hopefully be provided by Aston Villa at the weekend as July comes to an end. The season is fast dawning upon us, and rumour has it that new signings will soon compliment the current contingent at Stamford Bridge. A further display of defensive resolve and attacking invention against Alex McCleish's side at the weekend will no doubt see confidence continue to soar.

___________________________________________

Chelsea (4-3-3): Turnbull (Hilario 63); Ferreira, Rajkovic (Chalobah 76), Terry © (Ivanovic 63), Cole; Lampard (Mikel 63), Zhirkov (McEachran 61); Kalou, Benayoun, Malouda (Sturridge 61); Drogba (Torres 61).

Kitchee (4-5-1): Wang Zhenpang; Dani Guerrero, Fernando Recio, Ubay Luzardo ©, Dani Cancela; Jordi Tarrés (Lo Chi Kwan 21) (Ngan Lok Fung 78), Huang Yang (Lo Kwan Yee 72), Gao Wen (Dean Evans 53), Tsang Kam To (Liu Quankun), Liang Zicheng (Chu Siu Kei 58), Roberto Losada (James Ha 82).

The TalkChelsea.net 'man of the match' was Chelsea's number 10 – Yossi Benayoun

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Guest justin_3d

Yury is not convincing me. Think he should be sold.

Rajkovic should be kept for the new season.

And i believe that Sturridge can do a better job as RW then Anelka, if we don't buy a RW.

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Yury is not convincing me. Think he should be sold.

Rajkovic should be kept for the new season.

And i believe that Sturridge can do a better job as RW then Anelka, if we don't buy a RW.

If I'm not mistaken Rajkovic doesn't have a work permit. Maybe we could appeal, because he's got ability.

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Thank you Alex. I couldn't watch the game so youtube highlights and your report make it for me (I don't have to say your reports are far more entertaining than those on the offiicial website). It was refreshing to see Malouda doing his crosses that were so key in the double winning season, and in-form Benayoun and Sturridge who did exactly the same things he was doing at Bolton and was good at there. Looking forward to the next game that will tell us much more yet again.

Ou and these second kits, bloody stunning. Love them really.

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Guest justin_3d

If I'm not mistaken Rajkovic doesn't have a work permit. Maybe we could appeal, because he's got ability.

He def should get a permit cause he is far better then what the epl has as far as young defenders.

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Benayoun played decent, but it was definitely not a brilliant performance by my estimation.

I wonder just what he would have to do to please you ...he was always available ...energetic and innovative ...exactly what we have been crying out for.

also interesting was to say Frank playing deeper ,,and no complete holding player until Mikel came on

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Benayoun played decent, but it was definitely not a brilliant performance by my estimation.

Agreed-had lots of energy but not the dogs bollox by any stretch. Him and Kalou could ,be super -subs though.Fat Frank was back to his near best.

PS Surely ''Kitchee Kunts KO'd by Kalou and Kin''

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I wonder just what he would have to do to please you ...he was always available ...energetic and innovative ...exactly what we have been crying out for.

also interesting was to say Frank playing deeper ,,and no complete holding player until Mikel came on

tbh I don't have much of a expectation from Benayoun, so in a way i was pleased with performance. As i said he played well but i just don't think his performance was headliner worthy or anything special. truly disagree with you on benayoun being innovative, i didn't see any creativity or innovation from him.

Motm from me was Paulo Ferreira, i thought he played very well going forward.

Lamps performance was interesting indeed, i think for him to keep his place as a regular in the future he will have to play in deeper role like today.

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tbh I don't have much of a expectation from Benayoun, so in a way i was pleased with performance. As i said he played well but i just don't think his performance was headliner worthy or anything special. truly disagree with you on benayoun being innovative, i didn't see any creativity or innovation from him.

Motm from me was Paulo Ferreira, i thought he played very well going forward.

Lamps performance was interesting indeed, i think for him to keep his place as a regular in the future he will have to play in deeper role like today.

this is Blue Lions match report so I wont argue further ...

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