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Chelsea 2-0 Inter


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Chelsea F.C. 2-0 FC Internazionale Milano

Wednesday 22nd July 2009, World Football Challenge, the Rose Bowl, California

Inter-DrogbaMikelIvanovicEssienKalo.jpg
Didier Drogba is mobbed by his teammates following his opening goal at the Rose Bowl.

Carlo Ancelotti emerged victorious over José Mourinho's Inter Milan thanks to goals from Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard.

The Ivorian striker curled home a sumptuous strike after eleven minutes, before Frank Lampard sent goalkeeper Vid Belec the wrong way from the penalty spot with 50 minutes on the clock to seal an excellent victory. Coupled with the weekend's win over the Seattle Sounders, Chelsea have made an excellent start to life under Ancelotti, and face the challenge of the Italian's former side; AC Milan in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The coach labelled the performance "brilliant" and was full of praise for his squad following another fine performance on tour in the United States, and is looking forward to the beginning of the season following a strong start to life as Chelsea's new manager. With four goals scored and none conceded so far on tour, things are looking bright for Ancelotti and his team, and the high levels of confidence around the US training camp will only be boosted by a terrific performance in California.

Ancelotti made six changes to the side that comfortably overcame their MLS opposition four days before; with only Petr Cech, Ashley Cole, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Florent Malouda maintaining their positions in the starting eleven. Amongst the host of changes were Branislav Ivanovic and Salomon Kalou, who, along with Didier Drogba and Michael Essien, were participating in pre-season action for the first time this summer. Ricardo Carvalho partnered Terry at the heart of defence, and Deco was replaced by John Mikel Obi, although the Portuguese would enter the fray at half-time. Ross Turnbull would also make his Chelsea bow later in the game.

The opening exchanges were very much Chelsea's; the English side dominating both possession and territory. Inter were left camped inside their own half as Chelsea poured forward, but early moves that promised to bear fruit eventually faded into nothingness as the Italian rearguard stood firm. The two teams took a moment to size each other up as Mourinho's side began to pass the ball around, but Ancelotti's starting eleven ensured they stayed both tight and compact in a defensive sense, but it was the Blues who were looking the more likely to score, with Kalou and Drogba both full of energy and flair.

And it was the latter that opened the scoring with a bending effort from 25 yards after just 11 minutes. The Ivorian was played into space by Michael Essien, and took a second to set the ball before lashing it into the bottom corner, helped by the slightest of deflections. The Inter goalkeeper; Belec, should have saved the speculative effort, but the African forward was in no mood to be sympathetic, and wheeled away to celebrate with his colleagues. Drogba had earlier rounded the goalkeeper and cut back to Kalou, only to see the Inter defence clear before his strike partner could fashion a chance, and captain John Terry had also headed over, but Chelsea's committment to attack had paid a deserved and immediate dividend.

Chelsea could have had a second - and perhaps should have - when Drogba forced a smart save out of Belec. Ivanovic played a one-two with Lampard, and supplied Drogba with a pin-point, knee-height cross, but the Ivorian failed to get enough purchase on his effort, and the goalkeeper smothered at close-range.

The pace of the game was not the break-neck speed many had been hoping for, but instead slow and considered from both teams. Chelsea were full of pace and power up front but Inter's Davide Santon was enjoying an industrious performance in defence, and managed to halt two early Chelsea attacks. Inter showed some creativity of their own when Patrick Vieira - formerly of Arsenal - tip-toed between two Chelsea defenders before seeing the ball taken from his feet by a typical John Terry challenge.

Frank Lampard then found the midriff of the goalkeeper with a long-rang free kick, with the England midfielder shooting from over thirty yards. Chelsea ended the half clearly on top and deserving of their one-goal lead, but an Inter bench full of attacking talent - Ibrahimovic, Quaresma and Mancini included - was a threatening prospect for Ancelotti's stubborn defence.

But it was essentially game over just five minutes into the second half as Chelsea took command following Lampard's coolly-taken penalty. Daniel Sturridge - one of four half-time substitutes - looked to make an immediate impression following his excellent display in Seattle, and the former Manchester City youngster did just that; his chipped cross leading to a hand-ball by Ivan Cordoba. Alleged Chelsea target Nicholas Burdisso was booked for his complaints, but Lampard duly buried the spot kick by sending the goalkeeper the wrong way. Chelsea were 2-0 up, and in total control. Mourinho's side were not looking so special after all. Inter had offered some resistance earlier in the half when Diego Milito had broken free, but Cech had quickly launched himself from his goal-line and recovered the ball.

Chelsea then conjured another wonderful opening as they tore the Inter defence wide open with a stunningly-simple manoeuvre. Lampard chipped the ball over the Inter backline, allowing Anelka to take a touch and then attempt to volley past Belec, but the young goalkeeper stood up well and parried the Frenchman's effort. In truth it was a good chance for Anelka, but the goalkeeper had made amends for his earlier blunder with a textbook-style block.

Belec then pounced on a low Deco effort before Ivanovic entered the book for a strong challenge on the desperately disappointing Mario Balotelli. Deco, who had enjoyed a terrific 45 minutes in Seattle - was again looking strong as well as comfortable on the ball, and his invention led to a second chance for the Portuguese man, but his effort was a couple of yards wide of the mark.

Inter responded to Chelsea pressure with the arrivals of the aforementioned trio of Ibrahimovic, Quaresma and Mancini, but bar former-Blue Quaresma, were also lacking any creativity. Ancelotti handed a debut to Ross Turnbull, and the young goalkeeper did well to smother a dipping free kick from Ibrahimovic at the second attempt, before young Michael Mancienne and former Barcelona defender Juliano Belletti also entered the fray. Sam Hutchinson and Franco di Santo would later join the action, replacing Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard respectively.

Inter did fashion one clear opportunity with just seven minutes remaining, when Quaresma's freekick evaded everyone in the penalty area, save Ibrahimovic, whose first time volley was well-executed - but from four yards out, he could only find the side netting of Turnbull's goal. It could be argued, however, that the young shot-stopper had the effort covered should it have been on target.

There was time left for di Santo to have his say, but after collecting a delicious chipped through-ball from Deco, he could only volley wide with Belec bearing down on him. Chelsea played out the final minutes of stoppage time in relative comfort, as Ancelotti got one over his old rival. It is a result of much psychological significance for the new Chelsea boss, as comparisons between he and the Special One are set to continue throughout the coming season.

It is a result that promises much of Chelsea this season, and with fixtures against AC Milan and Mexican side Club America to come before the end of the American tour, Ancelotti's squad - now missing Michael Ballack due to injury - will have more difficult tests to come through before the Community Shield showdown with Manchester United at Wembley next month.

___________________________________________________________________

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

Inter-Cole.jpg

3. Ashley Cole, Chelsea F.C.

Match Fact - the match's attendance - over 81,000 - is the highest-ever for a Chelsea game played on American soil.

Chelsea (4-1-2-1-2): Cech (Turnbull); Ivanovic (Mancienne), Carvalho (Alex), Terry ©, A Cole (Hutchinson); Mikel; Malouda (Deco), Essien (Belletti); Lampard (Di Santo); Drogba (Anelka), Kalou (Sturridge).

Internazionale (4-2-3-1): Belec; Santon, Cordoba, Obi (Milito), Chivu (Mancini); Cambiasso (Krhin), Zanetti; Vieira, Motta (Ibrahimovic), Burdisso; Balotelli (Quaresma).
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