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Sydney FC 0-1 Chelsea: Blues finish season with entertaining win

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Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

After the sauna of Thailand, the cooler Sydney climate (and the 80,000+ in attendance) ensured a much more lively encounter.

Chelsea, just as Mourinho promised, started with the strongest lineup possible under the circumstances.  Only Nathan Aké at left back and Jeremie Boga in the no.10 role weren't first-team regulars for the Champions of England.  The trio of Hazard, Costa, Rémy led the line, supported by a strong base of Matic and Mikel and a center back pairing of Terry and Ivanovic.  Cesar Azpilicueta started in his natural right back position, while Petr Cech started for perhaps the last time ever in a Chelsea shirt in goal.

FIRST HALF

Both teams started brightly and full of attacking intent, but it was Chelsea who controlled most of the proceedings as expected.  Sydney looked to hit the visitors on the counter, down the flanks, especially behind the quite aggressive Nathan Ake, who did his level best to play as far forward as humanly possible.  While he certainly contributed to the attack, his defensive responsibilities went largely unattended.  Still, at least he was involved in the action unlike Jeremie Boga, who was mostly a spectator.

Just as the game threatened to settle down into more typical friendly, Loïc Rémy pulled out a world class finish from his socks and kicked off a 5-minute period of end-to-end madness.  Petr Cech was called into action.  Branislav Ivanovic cleared off the line.  Jeremie Boga missed an easy one, though he finally seemed to wake up and even went on one his typical runs before the half-time whistle.

Diego Costa was withdrawn on 40 minutes (precautionary; slight knock on his Achilles) in favor of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, but the striker was certainly one of the standout stars of the first half with endless running, verve, and desire to take on the hosts in sky blue.  Other standouts included Mikel (playing the more advanced role in the double pivot with Matic), Cech, and of course Hazard.  On the flipside, our full backs were both rather horrendous at defending, but hey, it's just an exhibition in the end.

SECOND HALF

Mourinho made a couple changes at the break, Dominic Solanke coming on to replace Jeremie Boga and Andreas Christensen taking the place of Aké (with Azpilicueta switching over to left back), as Chelsea (and especially Eden Hazard) picked up where they left off in the first half.  As usual, even in a friendly, the only way to have any hope of stopping Hazard was via a foul.

While a goal didn't quite come together for the Blues — we were a bit overelaborate at times, too — there were a few fun moments, chief among them when Loftus-Cheek and Mikel were the two most advanced runners on a counter.  Or when Rémy's shot after some great interplay with Hazard had to be cleared off the line.  Or when Hazard's run created a glorious chance for Christensen to fluff.  Or when Matic passed up an easy assist to Solanke and went for goal from a tough angle instead.  Hazard was withdrawn with a couple minutes left in favor of Charlie Colkett.

Further youth were introduced before then in the forms of Jordan Houghton, arriving for Loftus-Cheek who seemed to tweak his lower back, and Charly Musonda, who replaced Solanke.  Izzy Brown repalced the goalscorer Rémy.  The game had very much petered out into a friendly by then.

There was time enough for one more tremendous save from Petr Cech — his last one ever in a Chelsea shirt? — a few late chances for Sydney (including a disallowed goal for handball), and then the final whistle blew and the season was well and truly over.