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Malaysian XI 0-2 Chelsea


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Malaysian Select XI 0 - 2 Chelsea F.C.

July 29 2008, Pre-season Friendly, Shah Alam Stadium, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

selangor_shah_alam_stadium.jpg

Chelsea overcame a Malaysian XI thanks to goals from Nicolas Anelka and Ashley Cole.


Whilst the Malaysian side proved to be more of a challenge than both Guangzhou and Chengdu had posed, the Blues professionally dispatched their opposition with goals in each half. Anelka continued his rich vein of form in front of goal by firing Luiz Felipe Scolari's side ahead half-way through the first half, before Ashley Cole came off the bench to add a second after the interval.

And though Chelsea face a much more demanding task against Russian outfit Lokomotiv Moscow on Friday, this positive result will allow the Blues boss to assess his options before his side participates in the Russian Railways Cup.

With Salomon Kalou bound for the Olympics, Joe Cole replaced the Ivorian in the front line, whilst Wayne Bridge stepped in for Ashley Cole. Ricardo Carvalho played alongside John Terry at centre half, and John Obi Mikel replaced Paulo Ferreira, whilst Michael Essien slotted in at right full-back. Andrei Shevchenko and Scott Sinclair were amongst the Chelsea substitutes.

Regardless of the poor quality of the pitch, the Chelsea starting eleven looked uneasy in the humid conditions, and almost fell behind with less than a couple of minutes on the clock. A deceiving bounce caused Bridge's header to be mistimed, and the England defender could only watch on as Amirulhadi drove past and fiercely struck goalwards, only to see the ball flash narrowly wide of Petr Cech's upright.

However, Chelsea began to settle and started to create opportunities for themselves. Whilst in previous games, the defenders had been able to commit to the attacking play, the Chelsea backline was facing a much sterner test and were forced backwards on occasions. Despite this, the Blues were looking dangerous, and some excellent link-play between Deco and Joe Cole saw Frank Lampard presented with a good chance to shot towards goal, but the England midfielder failed to bring the ball down adequately to fire goalwards.

Shaun Wright-Phillips, scorer of a comedy goal against Chengdu, was beginning to look menacing, and a darting run behind two defenders was only denied by some excellent covering by centre-back Aidil, before Deco produced a moment of sheer brilliance; volleying Lampard's freekick from wide from all of thirty yards. The goalkeeper, Helmi, saved unconventionally, but it was a signal of intent from the Portuguese star. Helmi was called into action moments later, rushing out to deny Nicolas Anelka. The Frenchman was first to the rebound, and his pass found Wright-Phillips, who horribly fired wide and over as the ball took a mischievous bobble on the pitch.

On twenty six minutes, Anelka broke the deadlock with his second goal of the tour and a display of supreme confidence. The Frenchman, latching onto Deco's pass following good work by the Portuguese and Joe Cole, allowed the ball to roll in front of him before he lashed a left-foot drive beyond the goalkeeper. Whilst Helmi got a hand to the ball, the pace at which Anelka had fired home took the ball beyond the Malaysia custodian and Chelsea had taken a deserved lead after denying the hosts following their earlier superiority.

Malaysia were clearly on the back foot, and a crunching tackle by Fauzie saw Wright-Phillips require treatment. The player was booked, and his defensive partner Norhafiz headed a whipped cross by Joe Cole dangerously close to his own net, but the ball went beyond the frame of the goal and out for a Chelsea corner, which was subsequently cleared. Amirulhadi went close for Malaysia but again fired wide, before Michael Essien's left-footed drive was deflected into the hands of Helmi moments before the close of the half. Essien, who was having no problem getting forward, cut inside his man and launched a fierce shot, but the ball hit the back of a Malaysian defender and went through to the goalkeeper, whose handling was sound.

The second half was relatively uneventful, as Chelsea weathered the storm of the hosts. Whilst the Malaysian eleven challenged to make the contest more even, the Blues were clearly in the ascendancy but several attacking moves were let down by poor touches and wayward passes.

However, the Blues regained control of the match and following a move that saw Malouda and Lampard combine, Ashley Cole fired home from close range. Malouda's cross found the England midfielder, who played the ball to his England colleague who finished with aplomb. The goal settled the game in terms of a result but the hosts were keen on making matters more interesting, and Cech had to be at his best to deny the home side when he denied Zaquan with his feet after closing down the player.

Alex - introduced at the interval - had his free-kick deflected over before Andrei Shevchenko entered the fray, joining youngster Franco di Santo up front. Michael Essien spurned a good chance to make it three, but the goalkeeper spread himself well and prevented the Ghanaian to increasing Chelsea's lead. Ferreira did well to track back and tackle before the final whistle; the Portuguese racing back to block a shot from the Malaysia side as they began to break.

As the full-time whistle came, Chelsea completed their tour of Asia with three wins, thirteen goals scored and none conceded. The ideal start for Felipe Scolari, although the Brazilian will expect more from his squad as they tackle Lokomotiv, Sevilla and Milan in Moscow.
___________________________________________________________________

Chelsea: Cech [6] (Cudicini[6]), Essien [6] (Ivanovic [6]), Carvalho [6] (Alex [7]), Terry [6] (Ivanovic [6]), Bridge [6] (Ashley Cole [6]), Lampard [8] (Sinclair [6]), Mikel [7], Deco [7] (Shevchenko [6]), Joe Cole [7] (Malouda [6]), Anelka [8] (di Santo [6]), Wright-Phillips [6] (Ferreira [7]).

Referee: Subkhiddin HJ Sallehk

Star Man : Frank Lampard

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