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Torres strikes as Chelsea sink Villa


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Aston Villa 0-2 Chelsea

Torres strikes as Chelsea sink Villa

30th Jul 2011, In Match Reports, by Alex Hinsley

9-Torres.bmp£50 million World Cup winner Fernando Torres scored as Chelsea overcame Alex McCleish's Aston Villa side to win the 2011 Barclays' Asia Trophy. Andre Villas-Boas' strong-looking line-up got off to a whirlwind start when Josh McEachran poked home the opener after just 33 seconds, before the under-fire Torres doubled the lead with his first touch. The Spaniard had diverted Florent Malouda's cross-cum-shot beyond the otherwise outstanding Shay Given, who had made a handful of excellent saves to ensure the scoreline bore a semblance of respectability for the Midlands club.

The result not only means the Blues become the first side to lift the Asia Trophy twice in its eight-year existence, but that they maintain their perfect defensive record and winning streak under Villas-Boas. More important in the long term, however, was the obvious improvement in the team both physically and mentally as they outplayed Alex McCleish's side to such an extent that a 2-0 scoreline only belies Chelsea's dominance.

Villa were resolute defensively but left much to be desired going forward, and with only token efforts from Stephen Ireland and Stiliyan Petrov and later half-chances for Darren Bent and Emile Heskey to show for their endeavours, disappointing is a word that best sums up their showing as they came up second-best to the Premier League runners-up in all departments.

As expected, Chelsea have improved in both form and fitness at a gradual pace through this successful pre-season tour of Asia, and this victory over a strong Premier League outfit will only help inspire further confidence as the start of the new campaign approaches.

Perhaps even more crucial is the return to goalscoring form of Torres; the Spaniard looked an altogether-different animal after his poaching instinct saw him register his second strike of pre-season, and hopefully that will be the kick-start necessary to motivate further success in front of the target this coming season.

Torres was not the only player to impress, however, with Nicolas Anelka also making a case for a starting berth with an effervescent performance that certainly will have caught the attention of both Villas-Boas and those members of the media who had previously reduced the competition for the lone striker role at Stamford Bridge to a straight battle between Torres and Didier Drogba.

Frank Lampard, John Terry and Petr Cech all started and played the majority of the match, whilst there was also a return to action of Alex for his first taste of first-team football since the 2-2 draw with Newcastle back in May. The Brazilian had been absent for the majority of the side's pre-season campaign, but he would come on following the interval in the place of the injured Branislav Ivanovic, who was removed as a precaution.

After experimenting with a 4-2-3-1 against Kitchee in the tournament's first game, a more familiar-looking 4-3-3 saw Anelka flanked by Florent Malouda and Daniel Sturridge, whilst the impressive John Mikel Obi would anchor the midfield with another miserly display. It would be an equation that would result in some excellent movement and penetrative, intelligent passing created by tremendous craft and composure.

It took only 33 seconds for the Blues to race into the lead, but it was not without difficulty as Given excelled between the posts to first deny Anelka, who had been sent through by an intelligent pass by José Bosingwa, before then reacting in super-human time to block Malouda's follow-up. Josh McEachran was the first to the loose ball and he duly fired home from close range. The standard set early, Villas-Boas' charges would continue to demonstrate that same attacking confidence with a high-intensity first half performance.

Villa were left chasing shadows for large periods before the half-time break, with Chelsea's superior fitness – possibly due to a longer period of acclimatisation to the humid Hong Kong climate following a two-week stay in Asia – seeing the Blues utterly dominate proceedings. Malouda and Anelka tried their luck from distance as the Blues shone whilst Villa toiled; their only effort of any note seeing Ireland blast well over the crossbar when well-placed on the edge of the area.

A second Chelsea goal would not have been unwarranted, and that was denied only by a brace of correct offside decisions as first Anelka was deemed to be marginally the wrong side of Richard Dunne as he tapped home, before a ricocheting Frank Lampard free-kick was diverted in by Mikel – again, ruled out by the assistant referee's flag, again the right decision.

After being denied by the officiators, Given was all that came between Chelsea a deserved second goal as he first punched out a dangerous Lampard effort and smothered a low effort from Anelka that once more followed incisive interplays.

Heavily involved with the team's slick build-up play, Josh McEachran, clearly buoyed by his goal, was enjoying a composed performance – much like all of his team-mates – and the Blues ended the half the dominant side and in the ascendancy, even though the lead was a slender one.

The first chance following the interval belonged to Villa as McCleish opted to go to a more attacking 4-4-2, with Emile Heskey joining the fray. His physical presence was instrumental in fashioning that first chance as Petrov volleyed narrowly wide, whilst at the other end, Yury Zhirkov produced a fine save at full stretch out of Given as Chelsea looked to counter-attack. After the one-sided first half, to the delight of the patrons inside the Hong Kong Stadium, the second period was looking a more even and end-to-end affair.

Florent Malouda then broke down the left and crossed to the far post where Lampard saw his downwards header turned away by Given, before a trio of Chelsea changes saw Patrick van Aanholt, Didier Drogba and Torres enter the fray in place of Zhirkov, McEachran and Sturridge – and it was only seconds until the lead was doubled.

Malouda again was the architect of the chance – albeit inadvertently – as he slipped whilst pulling the trigger. Thankfully, Torres had managed to react to turn the ball home beyond Given and score a much-needed confidence booster. Villa appealed in vain for an offside call, but replays indicated el Nino had kept himself in line with James Collins before tapping in from twelve yards.

Suddenly reinvigorated, Torres was here, there and everywhere and winning the ball back for his team, and he combined well with Anelka on the hour mark, only to see another low drive blocked by the outstretched leg of the beleaguered Shay Given. Given was then sent diving at full stretch to cover a ferociously-hit effort from van Aanholt from all of 25 yards after further good play involving our Spanish number 9. Chelsea were expressing themselves with confidence and self-belief; a welcome change from the insipid and lacklustre football which cost Carlo Ancelotti his job.

Villa were given a brief supply of respite as they looked to break forward, and two decent chances fell to their frontmen as the game entered its final phase. First substitute Darren Bent hooked over a respectable opportunity after escaping the attentions of Alex before Heskey flashed an effort wide of the post. Cech had the shot covered, though there can be no denying he was left criminally-untested by the Villa forwards as he guided his defence to a sixth successive clean sheet under Villas-Boas' management.

Though it will mean little in the long-term, this trophy win may offer some confidence to the Chelsea squad whilst certainly offering Villas-Boas first-hand evidence of the Blues' typical defensive resolve. A series of gradually-improving performances leave the club in good stead heading into the new season, and with the likes of Lampard, Drogba, Torres and Malouda all in form in front of goal and the supply both incisive and consistent behind them, this team of ageing stars may not be as one-dimensional as first thought.

Work must still be done and next weekend's clash with Rangers at Ibrox will offer a second stern examination of the squad prior to the start of the Premier League campaign, but after the double blow of missing out on Argentine pair Sergio Aguero and Javier Pastore, some solace can be found in the fact Chelsea are preparing for the new campaign in winning style.

______________________________

Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Bosingwa, Ivanovic (Alex 46), Terry © (Chalobah 89), Zhirkov (Van Aanholt 57); McEachran (Drogba 57), Mikel, Lampard (

Kalou 84); Sturridge (Drogba 57), Anelka (Benayoun 73), Malouda

Aston Villa (4-3-3): Given;Young, Dunne (Clark 83), Collins, Warnock; Albrighton (Heskey 46), Delph (Makoun 73), Petrov © (Gardner 73), Ireland (Bent 61), Delfouneso (Bannan 61); Agbonlahor

The TalkChelsea.net 'man of the match' was Aston Villa's SHAY GIVEN

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Guest justin_3d

I actually liked Yury a lot better then last match.

At least he improved, while some others continue doing bad, like Bosingwa, and Lampard......

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I actually liked Yury a lot better then last match.

At least he improved, while some others continue doing bad, like Bosingwa, and Lampard......

Lampard got Man of the Match against Villa and Man of the Tournament also!

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Guest justin_3d

Lampard got Man of the Match against Villa and Man of the Tournament also!

Well something wrong with whoever decided that.

Yossi was the better player the other day, Josh and Yury where good today.

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Thanks for the report which I read from the twitter feed. It'll have to hold me until I can watch the replay at 2 pm So Cal time. I planned to watch the DVR recording but it seems my 16 year old was recording old "Miami Ink" episodes. :blink:

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Brillait stuff as usual Alex.

I don't agre that Bosingwa played bad. I think he looked alot like his previous self, and personally would love to see him as Right Back for the Stoke game.

I know it's a matter of opinion but he struggled with delfaunso, if only delfaunso could cross we could of been in a bit of trouble. I would hate to see him in the stoke game, we need a phsyical defender at right back and i would glady have Ivanovic there when the time comes.

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