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Chelsea at FC Kitchee, Report: Blues Impress In 4-0 Trouncing

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Chelsea made it five wins from five in the pre-season with an easy 4-0 win over FC Kitchee in the first round of the Asia trophy, setting themselves up for a date with Aston Villa in the final. Frank Lampard found the net from the penalty spot before three second half goals put a gloss on the victory. It was only a friendly, of course, but it's always good to see the Blues playing well.

Despite declaring that the focus was on the 4-3-3, Andre Villas-Boas opted to field Yuri Zhirkov and Frank Lampard in a double pivot with Yossi Benayoun in the hole, a decision which turned out to be surprisingly effective. Ross Turnbull started, Slobodan Rajkovic and John Terry were paired in the centre of the defence alongside Ashley Cole and Paulo Ferreira, and the front line was the expected trio of Florent Malouda, Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou.

Unlike the previous match, which also ended up 4-0 in favour of Chelsea, the Blues never looked anything near second-best, imposing themselves on the match from the outset. Lampard, Zhirkov and Malouda each had genuine opportunities in the early stages before Kalou managed to hit the crossbar from a Didier Drogba cross in the 16th minute.

Despite dominating with relative ease, Chelsea didn't manage to break the deadlock until the 34th minute, mostly thanks to good work by Benayoun. The Israeli weaved between defenders in the penalty box before inevitably being brought down by Gao Wen's outstretched leg. Phil Dowd immediately pointed to the spot, and Lampard duly hit the ball right back down the middle with Wang Zhenpeng guessing to his left. Not long after that, Malouda saw a goal-bound effort cleared off the line by Daniel Cancela's elbow, which would have caused far more fuss in a game that Chelsea actually wanted to win.

1-0 at half time didn't really reflect Chelsea's dominance of the game, but that would change shortly. Malouda ran riot down the left wing, creating two goals in the fifteen minutes after the break, first seeing a low cross knocked home by Ubay Luzardo for an own goal and then sending in a looping, deflected effort that Drogba nodded in at the far post with Zhenpeng helpless.

With the Blues 3-0 up, it was time for changes. In a press conference on Tuesday, Andre Villas-Boas had revealed that only five substitutes were allowed, so it was a bit of a surprise when seven were used. Only Ferriera, Cole, Benayoun and Kalou remained on the pitch as the manager rang in the changes, introducing the likes of Josh McEachran and Fernando Torres to the fray.

It was Daniel Sturridge, however, who was most impressive, the England under-21 international capping off the evening with a remarkable goal in the 75th minute. Picking up a lost cause at the far edge of the box, he pulled of a superb turn to leave the first defender scrambling before beating a second and wellying a right-footed shot past Zhenpeng from a tight angle. If Sturridge can play like that... well, there's a reason Bolton Wanderers fans fell in love with him so fast last season.

There was time yet for Fernando Torres to make his mark on the game, and a sumptuous 30-yard effort should be remembered more for the sweetness of the shot than for the fact that it missed by all of three inches, clattering back off the post with the goalkeeper well beaten. It wasn't a goal, but for those desperately looking for signs of life from the £50M man, it should quell some fears.

For those looking for signs of life from a Chelsea team who'd hd a mildly disappointing start to the pre-season... well, they were positively verdant in Hong Kong, brushing aside a not-awful team in difficult conditions. There are two matches left before the footballing year kicks off, and on this sort of form the Blues are probably wishing that they could kick off the season right now rather than in two week's time.