The Blues kicked off their second tour of the United States this summer in Indianapolis, cruising by Inter Milan for a relatively comfortable 2-0 victory. Up next will be the semifinal of the International Champions Cup, with a spot in next week's final on the line.
Jose Mourinho had a full squad from which to choose this evening now that the players from the Confederations Cup were again available for selection. Kenneth Omeruo was still in London after receiving a work permit yesterday, but all of the other six were included in the squad tonight.
Mourinho went with a 4-2-3-1 to start the game with only one of the Confederations Cup crew in the lineup. That lone returning international was Oscar, who sat in the hole behind Romelu Lukaku while being flanked by Eden Hazard and Victor Moses.
Petr Cech started the game in goal, and had Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, John Terry, and Ashley Cole in front of him. Rounding out the lineup were the pivot pairing of Ramires and Marco van Ginkel, which caught my eye as soon as I saw the lineup.
Chelsea started out with some sloppy play, as the entire squad seemed more or less out of sync. Inter didn't look any better though, and the first ten minutes of tonight's preseason game looked very much like you'd expect most preseason friendlies to look.
That changed 13 minutes in as a sloppy Inter turnover was recovered by Victor Moses about 35 yards from the Chelsea goal. He drove deep in to the Inter half of the field, and was left with a choice between leading a streaking Lukaku or laying the ball in the path of Oscar. Moses chose the Oscar route, and the Brazilian responded by curling a wonderful right footed shot into the back of the net.
Chelsea ramped up the pressure after the opener and began to string together passes. 13 minutes later they'd have a chance to double the lead, as the referee pointed to the spot after Victor Moses was dragged down.
Romelu Lukaku did well to take possession of the ball and calmly laid the ball into the path of the Nigerian. Moses was fouled outside of the box, but his considerable momentum carried him well into the box after the trip. That was enough for the referee to send Eden Hazard to the penalty spot, and Hazard made the finish look easy.
The Blues dominated the remainder of the half, although some questionable decision making in the final third led to a limited amount of chances. Inter rarely threatened though, and Chelsea went into the half with a comfortable 2-0 lead.
Oscar, Moses, and Cech made way for Mark Schwarzer, Juan Mata, and Michael Essien after the break, an extended one in which the Blues took the pitch very late. That late start was followed by Inter's best spell of the game, and just three minutes after the restart they had a goal ruled out for offside. The referee made the correct decision in this instance, but Inter fans can probably feel like they were owed a decision after the incorrect penalty call.
Another decision would go against them about ten minutes later, as Hugo Campagnaro was justifiably shown a straight red. After losing out to John Terry on a ball just inside the Inter half, Campagnaro delivered a nasty looking stamp on the ankle of the Chelsea captain. The player had little protest as he rightfully sent to the dressing room, leaving Inter to play the final half hour with just ten men on the pitch.
Chelsea made a pair of changes after the incident, bringing on David Luiz and Demba Ba for Romelu Lukaku and Gary Cahill. Unlike much of the last guy's reign, John Terry remained in his usual position on the left, while David Luiz took up the right side of the central partnership. Why reinvent the wheel, right?
Chelsea continued to apply the pressure, with David Luiz looking very much like a player Mourinho will love. Inter seemed content to sit back and play out the loss, and chances weren't coming all that often. The Blues absolutely dominated possession though, and had a few good opportunities to further increase the lead.
More subs followed, with van Ginkel and Ivanovic making way for Cesar Azpilicueta and John Obi Mikel. Five minutes later we saw the rest of the bench enter the game, as Fernando Torres and Ryan Bertrand replaced Cole and Hazard.
A brilliant Fernando Torres run was the highlight of the final 20 minutes, but has happened so many times in his Chelsea tenure, his final touch just wasn't good enough to finish off the chance. The game would end 2-0, with the Blues absolutely dominating the affair.
With the victory comes a later start time on Sunday, as the Blues will now take on AC MIlan in New York on Sunday at 6:30 pm local time (23:30 BST). That semifinal will take place in New Jersey at MetLife Stadium, with the winner advancing to the final in Miami.