Chelsea completed their tour of the far-east with a resounding victory over Aston Villa in the final of the Barclays Asia Trophy.
This was the second time that the Blues had lifted this trophy, after being the inaugural winners of the tournament back in 2003 under Claudio Ranieri.
An early goal from the talented Josh McEachran inside the first minute of the game gave the Blues the lead, and the game was settled when Fernando Torres glided in a first-time finish seconds after coming on as a second half substitute.
It maintained our record of not conceding a goal in the pre-season and made it six wins out of six.
Nicolas Anelka was given the responsibility to spearhead the attack, with both, Drogba and Torres, on the bench, and the Frenchmen immediately combined with Daniel Sturridge to create the first chance, but his shot was well saved by Shay Given. The Irishmen followed it up by making a brilliant save from Malouda on the follow-up, but he couldn’t muster to save the next attempt from McEachran, and this was all inside the first 30 seconds.
Stephen Ireland then had the chance to equalise for the Villans, but he blazed his shot over. From there on in it was all Chelsea till the end.
After getting through the initial pre-season games without making much of an impact, the experienced players sprinkled with a bit of youth, dominated the whole games and passed around at will, resulting in some flowing attacks.
Josh McEachran was having a fine game, and along with Frank Lampard, was the instigator of most of the attacks from the middle.
Nicolas Anelka had the chance to double the lead before the break, but his fierce shot was well saved the Villa keeper, so we remained only a goal ahead going into the break.
Villas-Boas only made a single substitution at half-time, with Alex replacing Ivanovic at the back. This was the first appearance from the Brazilian this season, and was a welcome relief for the Chelsea fans.
Villa started much better after the break and had half-chances with Agbonlahor and Petrov trying their best, but to no avail.
Soon, it was time to introduce the heavyweights from the bench as both, Torres and Drogba, came on, much to the delight of the supporters in the ground. And, what a substitution it prove to be, as Fernando Torres scored with his first touch on the night. An ambitious shot from distance by Malouda was mishit and was on its way out, when an instinctive steered the ball past Given.
There was an instant delight on the face of the Spaniard, and more of relief which brought his confidence back in one shot. There was spring in his step, and seemingly he looked more confident in everything he did, and forced a save from Given soon again.
The headlines may be stolen by the Torres winner, but it was clear that the catalyst of this win were Josh McEachran, Frank Lampard and Nicolas Anelka. They made the team tick and were the creative forces of the team.
Chelsea now return to England with only one more friendly to look forward to against Rangers at the weekend before the season opener. The squad will be joined by the Brazilian duo of Ramires and David Luiz after missing the preparations till now due to National duties.
After going through rigorous training and meticulous planning, Andre Villas-Boas finally had something to cheer about, he said; ‘I have been optimistic throughout. It’s been a very intensive tour in all senses, and I think today I must congratulate the players for the superhuman effort they put on the pitch and the performance.’
Further, he added; ‘Commitment-wise, motivationally, and the professionalism of the players has been something I haven’t seen before.
‘It’s not easy to come away from your home and in these difficult conditions we find to put on a tremendous effort in training, always finding motivation and this is a positive sign for us. Generally speaking we are happy with the tour we have had.’
Chelsea: Cech; Bosingwa, Ivanovic (Alex h-t), Terry (c) (Chalobah 89), Zhirkov (Van Aanholt 57); McEachran (Drogba 57), Mikel, Lampard (Kalou 84); Sturridge (Drogba 57), Anelka (Benayoun 73), Malouda.
Goals McEachran 1, Torres 58