Saturday, December 14, 2019 | ePaper

Chelsea defeat Barcelona 2-1 in Rakuten Cup clash in Japan

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Chelsea's David Luiz (right) and Barcelona's Antoine Griezmann (left) vie for the ball during their friendly soccer match in Saitama, north of Tokyo on Tuesday.



Chelsea beat Barcelona 2-1 in their Rakuten Cup clash in Japan on Tuesday. The result is Frank Lampard's most impressive as Chelsea boss to date, with his side putting in a positive showing at the Saitama Stadium. Tammy Abraham and Ross Barkley grabbed the goals.
Lionel Messi's absence helped, but the Blues prevented Barcelona from playing their game and were worthy winners. Barcelona dominated possession in the early exchanges, with Antoine Griezmann showing impressive link-up play on his debut.
But it was Chelsea who came closest to opening the scoring in the first half, with Tammy Abraham firing over from six yards out.
The Blues threatened again in the 28th minute but Christian Pulisic steered his effort wide.
Then, in the 34th minute, Abraham made amends for his earlier miss by giving Chelsea the lead.
Jorginho pressured Sergio Busquets into making a pass that landed at Abraham's feet. The 21-year-old then rounded Marc-Andre ter Stegen and slotted the ball home.
Lampard's Chelsea were preventing Barcelona from playing their game and Pulisic could have doubled their lead but he fired wide from a tight angle.
Chelsea led at half-time and Lampard's message in the dressing room would have been a positive one.
The changes were rung at half-time, with Frenkie de Jong coming on for his Barcelona debut.
Barcelona upped their game and Kepa Arrizabalaga was forced into making four saves in quick succession.
But they were unable to get back into the game and Barkley made it 2-0 with a lovely strike.
The match offered the first glimpse of Griezmann in a Barcelona shirt.
The Frenchman was making his debut for the Blaugrana following his €108 million move from Atletico Madrid.
Griezmann was on the end of a strong challenge by Jorginho in the 17th minute that left him needing treatment.
But he showcased his talent in his 45 minutes on the pitch and Barcelona supporters have to be happy.
Based on this evidence, the 2018 World Cup winner is going to fit in well at Barcelona and the thought of him playing with Lionel Messi is very exciting.
Frank Lampard had endured a mixed start to life as Chelsea manager. He drew his first game in charge against Bohemians, won his second match against St Patrick's Athletic and lost against Kawasaki Frontale in his third.
Barcelona was the toughest test to date but he still put his faith in youngsters Abraham and Mason Mount to start. And his trust paid off, with Chelsea recording a great win.

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