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Seattle 0-2 Chelsea


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Seattle Sounders 0 - 2 Chelsea F.C.

Saturday 18th June 2009, Pre-season Friendly, Qwest Field Stadium, Seattle

Daniel Sturridge celebrates his sublime opener with his teammates.

Chelsea began life under Carlo Ancelotti with a comfortable victory over MLS outfit Seattle Sounders.

Debutant Daniel Sturridge opened the scoring with a sharp turn and finish that beat former Tottenham goalkeeper Kasey Keller at his far post. The young English forward was involved in the Blues' second goal; threading a perfectly-weighted pass into the feet of Nicolas Anelka, who expertly set up Frank Lampard to lash home Chelsea's second and seal a comfortable victory under the new Italian coach. The Blues offered glimpses of quality during the match but were never seriously troubled by the American side, and were barely required to get out of first gear.

The professional performance pleased the former AC Milan manager, who now must prepare his side for difficult clashes with Internazionale Milano, as well as his previous club. The Blues boss elected to field a strong line-up for his first game in charge of the club; his side lining up in a 4-4-2 formation. Deco began as a deep-lying playmaker, allowing Frank Lampard and Michael Ballack to advance further up field. Florent Malouda supported a frontline that boasted new signing Sturridge as well as last season's Golden Boot winner Nicolas Anelka.

Despite all the controversy and rumours surrounding his future, Chelsea skipper John Terry began the match also and was called into action early on as the tourists were pushed onto the back foot by an energetic Sounders starting eleven. Terry was forced to make two excellent sliding tackles to relieve the hosts of possession inside the first ninety seconds, before Jose Bosingwa prodded away a dangerous cross moments later. The Sounders had begun the game the faster of the two sides, as expected by the Chelsea boss, but the well-marshalled defence stood firm as Petr Cech took a number of dominating early catches.

The MLS side were enjoying the opening exchanges and looked dangerous going forward, but it was a mistake by the experienced goalkeeper Keller that almost saw Chelsea took the lead. Attempting to clear a back pass, Keller miskicked and almost presented to ball to Anelka, but the shotstopper recovered and smothered the ball before clearing. The mistake clearly shook the hosts, who threw caution to the wind as the Blues began to establish a foothold in the game.

And it took only twelve minutes for them to stamp their authority on the fixture as Sturridge lashed home a beautiful opening goal. Florent Malouda capitalised on the hosts pushing too many players forward to attack on one occasion, and launched a superb through ball to Sturridge, who kept his composure brilliantly in front of goal; taking a moment to set himself before finding the bottom corner. The young striker wheeled away to celebrate with his teammates - hopefully, it will be the first of many from the former Manchester City forward.

Deco - much-maligned for his inconsistency last term - was enjoying himself in the Seattle sunshine, and sprayed a glorious pass into the path of Anelka, who drew a good save from Keller as the American rushed out to deny the Chelsea forward. The influential Portuguese midfielder then fashioned another chance for the strike partnership; this time allowing Sturridge to run through, but the young forward's effort was wayward.

But Chelsea were almost made to pay for their lack of concentration, and it took a number of strong headed clearances from Terry and Alex respectively to earn the Blues some respite. Cech then made an excellent diving save to tip over a Ljundberg freekick which was bending dangerously close toward the Czech's right post.

But on 31 minutes the Blues doubled their lead when Lampard lashed home from close range. Bosingwa surged forward down the right after being played into space out wide, before his combination with Sturridge allowed Anelka to dart beyond an exposed Sounders defence. The Frenchman kept his cool and set up Lampard, who, in typical fashion, was making the late run into the box. The Englishman's finish was precise as he rifled the ball beyond Keller and into the top corner. There was to be no way back for the hosts, although the fantastic local support suggested otherwise.

Ljundberg continued to pose the biggest threat to Chelsea, and the former Arsenal man crafted a number of eventually fruitless moves, although Cech did have to be alert to collect a disguised through-ball to Montero. The Swede himself audaciously shot from range minutes before the interval, and only a combination of Alex and Cech denied the hosts a route back into the game. The Brazilian defender launched himself at the ball, deflecting it into the path of Cech, who fortunately blocked the shot with an outstretched leg.

At half-time, there were a massive number of changes - nine in total - that saw only Michael Ballack and Lampard remain on the pitch. Hilario resumed goalkeeping duties from Cech, and young Franco di Santo replaced the impressive Sturridge up front. Andrei Shevchenko played behind the front two that also consisted of the recently-returned Claudio Pizarro - both strikers sporting considerably longer hair-dos than when last in a Blues shirt.

Di Santo was immediately involved in the action, but a superb point-blank save from Boss denied the Argentine a goal early in the second half. At the other end, as the game's pace began to slow, Hilario was fortunate to see a corner headed wide after he had mistimed a punch. Chelsea were beginning to become less and less adventurous, and that was underlined when the industrious Ballack was replaced by John Mikel Obi on the hour. Hilario then had a clearance charged down by le Toux, but fortunately for the Portuguese goalkeeper, the ball rebounded wide.

Nyassi then curled a shot wide with seventy minutes on the clock before Chelsea responded through a number of di Santo efforts. Lampard lofted a ball forwards for the Chelsea number nine to chase, and the young forward successfully prodded beyond an advancing Keller, but saw his shot cleared by a recovering defender. His frustration continued as a shot on the run was denied by an almighty goalmouth scramble, and Pizarro could only dribble the ball out of play as he attempted to recover possession.

Shevchenko then offered a glimpse of his former self with a powerful run that saw him out-manoeuvre two defenders before finding Boss' midriff with a left-footed effort. At the other end, it took some excellent concentration from the fit again Ricardo Carvalho to deny le Toux a goalscoring chance, before Sam Hutchinson's positioning preserved a clean sheet as he recovered to charge down a pass when two Sounders forwards were bearing down on goal. John Mikel Obi then launched a stinging shot on target which Boss tipped over, as Chelsea looked to round off an efficient display.

The result is 'not important' according to Ancelotti, but the Blues boss will surely be pleased with a winning performance during his first match in charge. The Italian certainly won't be sleepless in Seattle this evening, after seeing his team play very well in their first game of pre-season.


The TalkChelsea.net Star Man award goes to...


Frank Lampard, Chelsea F.C.

Match Fact - the match's attendance - 65,289 - is the highest-ever for a Chelsea game played on American soil.

Chelsea (4-1-2-1-2): Cech (Hilario), Bosingwa (Belletti), Terry (Carvalho), Alex (Ivanovic), A.Cole (Hutchinson), Ballack (Mikel), Deco (Sinclair), Lampard, Malouda (Pizarro), Anelka (Shevchenko), Sturridge (di Santo).

Seattle Sounders (4-3-3): Keller (Boss), Riley (Brown), Hurtado (Neagle), Marshall, Wahl (Scott), Ljundberg (Fucito), Alonso, Zakuani (Nyassi), Montero (Levesque), Vagenas (Sturgis), Jaqua (Le Roux)
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