The Blues booked a spot in the International Champions Cup semifinal on Sunday by beating Inter Milan in Indianapolis tonight. Their next opponent will now be Inter's closest rivals, as AC Milan beat Valencia 2-0 to get the tournament underway.
It was a sloppy start to the game, with the first ten minutes or so highlighted more by poor passes and ugly first touches than anything worth watching. That all changed 13 minutes in though, as Victor Moses took possession deep in Chelsea territory, ran the length of the pitch with the ball, and picked out Oscar who curled it into the net. Just like that, Chelsea were in the lead.
Chelsea got a fortunate call int the 27th minute, as Romelu Lukaku left a beautiful ball in the path of a full speed Victor Moses. The Inter defense had no choice but to foul, and the referee incorrectly ruled that Moses was inside the box when the foul occurred. One Eden Hazard penalty later, it was 2-0 Chelsea.
The rest of the first half was pretty quiet, with Branbearpig's yellow card being the only real item of note. Jose made some changes at the half, bringing on Mark Schwarzer, Michael Essien, and Juan Mata for Petr Cech, Victor Moses, and Oscar.
Inter found the back of the net just minutes into the half, but it was correctly waved off for offside. Fifty eight minutes in, Inter was down to ten after Campagnaro was correctly sent off for an absolutely awful challenge on John Terry. The official probably stopped play too early there, as the ball had fallen to Chelsea for a two on one break. In a real game, that would have irritated me. Tonight, I just don't care.
David Luiz and Demba Ba came on immediately after the red card, with Romelu Lukaku and Gary Cahill making way. Cesar Azpilicueta and John Obi Mikel replaced Branislav Ivanovic and Marco van Ginkel several minutes later, with Chelsea still comfortably controlling most of the play.
Chelsea used the remainder of their bench in the 73rd minute, bringing on Fernando Torres and Ryan Bertrand for Ashley Cole and Eden Hazard. Twenty minute later, the referee blew the 2-0 victory to a close. Here are a few quick thoughts in the immediate aftermath of this one:
- Marco van Ginkel covers an awful lot of ground. It's hard not to be impressed by what we saw from him tonight, even if he's still not fully in sync with his teammates.
- Inter tried to run a high line tonight, and Victor Moses looked absolutely fantastic in tearing it apart. He's a real weapon when used correctly, and I trust Jose Mourinho to get the best out of him far more than I did the last guy in charge.
- Chelsea with Oscar is far more fun to watch than Chelsea without Oscar.
- Michael Essien looked awfully good this evening, moving fairly well for an old guy. Indiana used to be prime Bison country though, so he probably felt right at home.
- The spacing between the defensive line and the band of three was perfect tonight, something that's not surprising given the new man in charge. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see massive improvement in the midfield this season just based on more competent management, as the space between the lines has been an issue for most of the past two years.
- The Mikel/Essien pivot could be a lot of fun to watch, as Mikel actually looked comfortable enough with his partner that he often ventured into the attack. He's going to score a goal this season, just watch.
- As much as the name of Inter Milan has been associated with quality recently, this team didn't look like they're going to be very good this season based on what we saw tonight. It was certainly a much better opponent than any of the three in Asia, but I wouldn't get too worked up about dominating a work in progress.