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Frankfurt 2-1 Chelsea


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cole3.jpgChelsea’s pre-season preparations suffered a blow with a friendly defeat at Eintracht Frankfurt.

The Blues went behind when a mix-up between John Terry and goalkeeper Henrique Hilario allowed Patrick Ochs to score, although Frank Lampard did equalise in the second half.

Nevertheless the hosts regained the lead with a late Halil Altintop penalty, giving them a victory that was deserved on the balance of play.

For Chelsea, the match was a good work-out for many of the returning first-team squad, and a swathe of substitutions will have allowed Carlo Ancelotti to assess the vast majority of his options ahead of next weekend’s Community Shield bout with Manchester United.

Ancelotti opted to start with six of the nine players who formed the returning World Cup contingent, and Yuri Zhirkov was also available for the first time since aggravating his hamstring. There was also a first start for Yossi Benayoun, whilst youngster Jeffrey Bruma retained his place at centre-back.

And after the traditional pre-match frivolities it was the visitors who threatened first; Nicolas Anelka’s low cross being smothered behind before Salomon Kalou could capitalise. Bruma headed over the resultant corner from Florent Malouda as Chelsea began the more adventurous of the two teams.

Malouda and Benayoun then combined to set up Kalou, who blazed over from twenty five yards, but Chelsea’s attacking play was being stifled by a combination of stout defending and a woeful surface.

But whilst the forwards were showing some signs of promise, Chelsea’s backline were leaving a lot to be desired and a mix-up between goalkeeper and captain did little to inspire confidence. With the ball rolling back to the Portuguese custodian, Terry decided to help it on its way with Ochs bearing down upon him. Hilario’s first touch was poor and he was left stranded as Ochs was able to clip the ball home.

Greek international Ioannis Amanatidis was becoming more involved as the match progressed, and he forced a smart save out of the Chelsea goalkeeper with an acrobatic effort. Hilario then made a good save at point-blank range from Theofanis Gekas before a combination of goalkeeper and woodwork denied Amanatidis from doubling Frankfurt’s lead.

There were eight changes made at half-time as Ancelotti sought to utilise as many options as possible – Frank Lampard took the armband from Terry as the likes of Ricardo Carvalho and Branislav Ivanovic joined the fray.

And the Blues were far more cohesive during the second half, largely down to the fact that the vast majority of this eleven had already featured in Chelsea’s pre-season campaign. Malouda sparked to life and curled an effort just wide of the Frankfurt goal before Michael Essien, another introduction from the bench, lashed a left-footed effort beyond the post.

Substitute Patrick van Aanholt was enjoying an accomplished performance at left-back and it was he who set up Lampard for the equaliser. Surging forward, he picked out the England star who was able to pop the ball under Ralf Fahrmann before sliding home.

Following a brief lull in the game that had followed a host of substitutions and Lampard’s 63rd-minute equalizer, the game exploded back into life with an array of goalmouth action. With a little under ten minutes left, Frankfurt were awarded a penalty when Nemanja Matic was accused of holding in the box, and Altintop stepped up to score with aplomb.

The hosts then nearly added a third but Altintop’s effort was blocked brilliantly by Carvalho after Hilario had again lost the ball.

The Blues nearly responded immediately, but Fahrmann made amends for his earlier misjudgment to come out and block Fabio Borini’s effort. The Italian looked to beat the goalkeeper at his near post when he should have squared to the unmarked Scott Sinclair.

The final whistle sounded, resigning Chelsea to a second straight defeat in pre-season. Ancelotti will no doubt be happy with the side’s second half performance and be grateful of the valuable match time gained by his players.

A cause for concern will be the Blues’ goalkeeping situation – though number one Petr Cech is due for a return before the weekend, Hilario and fellow understudy Ross Turnbull have done little to ease worries with a string of wobbly performances over pre-season. Nevertheless Chelsea will be looking to make amends as they play Hamburg in the final game of their tour on Wednesday, before Drogba, Alex and Cech return for the Wembley showdown with Manchester United next Sunday.

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Chelsea (4-3-3): Hilario; Ferreira (Mancienne 46), Bruma (Carvalho 46), Terry © (Ivanovic 46), Cole (Van Aanholt 46); Benayoun (Lampard 46), Mikel (Essien 46), Zhirkov (Matic 46); Kalou (Sinclair 58), Anelka (Borini 46), Malouda (McEachran 58)

Frankfurt (4-4-2): Nikolov (Fahrmann 46); Ochs (Rode 68), Franz (Bellaid 46), Russ, Tzavellas; Jung, Meier (Fenin 76), Schwegler (Heller 68), Kohler (Korkmaz 76); Amanatidis (Altintop 59), Gekas (Caio 59).

The TalkChelsea.net Man of the Match was Eintracht's number 2 - Patrick Ochs

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