Chelsea’s Under-21s got back to winning ways on Sunday afternoon with a rampaging 4-0 win over Liverpool at Cobham.
A blistering spell of four goals in ten minutes either side of half time did the damage with Bertrand Traore opening the scoring before three in quick succession after the restart put the result beyond doubt. A glorious solo strike by Ruben Loftus-Cheek made it 2-0 before Tammy Abraham completed the rout with a quick-fire double.
In front of a watching Jose Mourinho and his full first-team coaching staff – for the first 45 minutes at least – there were starts for Traore, Jamal Blackman, Ola Aina and Loftus-Cheek as well as Under-21 stand-outs Charly Musonda, Charlie Colkett and Jay Dasilva in what was an exceptionally strong Chelsea team for Adi Viveash.
Liverpool weren’t quite as strong, with several of their better prospects involved under new manager Jurgen Klopp, but regular Blues-slayer Jerome Sinclair was included from the start, as was full Wales international Harry Wilson, who has been out on a youth loan at Crewe Alexandra this season.
With the feeling that this, perhaps as much as any other Under-21 fixture, was a chance for the hopeful Blues youngsters to press a first team claim, there was a buzz about the hosts from kickoff and Loftus-Cheek had the Reds’ back line in all sorts of trouble with only ninety seconds on the clock. Powering his way towards goal, a late tackle by Joe Magure stopped him dead in his tracks and earned the first yellow card of the day from referee Antony Coggins.
Operating in the number ten role, Loftus-Cheek saw a lot of early possession and also had Chelsea’s first shot at goal; receiving the ball from the lively Musonda before turning and shooting smartly at Ryan Fulton in the Liverpool goal. Colkett then picked out Abraham with a wonderful searching pass but, despite a fine first touch from the young forward, a slip allowed Corey Whelan to clear his lines.
With the pressure mounting, Liverpool found it increasingly hard to get out of their own defensive third. A short back-pass caught Fulton on his heels and although Loftus-Cheek was able to skip around him, his touch forced him wide and when the shooting opportunity eventually materialised, Traore was rather cumbersome in shanking it both high and wide. Musonda then went down looking for a penalty that would have been soft if given whilst the visitors had a rare sight of goal in between when Wilson wasted a good free-kick chance with a wayward attempt.
Traore shot wide and Dion Conroy failed to make contact with a teasing Musonda cross as Chelsea upped the ante close to half time and although Alex O’Hanlon kept them honest at the other end with a dangerous in-swinging free kick, the hosts deservedly went in a goal to the good when Colkett produced a top-notch delivery of his own. His ball to the far post stood up perfectly for Traore to rise highest and thump a header beyond the reach of Fulton to make it 1-0.
The game’s signature moment arrived ten seconds after the restart. Chelsea kicked things off and Colkett fed Loftus-Cheek, who embarked on a powerful charge through numerous red shirts before arriving in the penalty area and drilling low under Fulton’s body to double the home lead. It was reminiscent of his famous run against Schalke in last season’s UEFA Youth League and was a truly sensational solo goal.
That opened the floodgates. Five minutes later a push on Kyle Scott by Cleary saw a penalty awarded, allowing Abraham to step up and convert his tenth goal of the season, and before anyone could catch their breath it was 4-0. Colkett played Musonda in down the left, and his fleet of foot and awareness to size up his options saw him bend a perfect ball into the path of Abraham, who gleefully snaffled a second goal for himself.
Stunned by the hosts’ clinical finishing, Liverpool tried their best to regroup and earn back some respectability. Blackman was forced into good saves to keep Wilson and Sinclair out whilst Adam Phillips struck a free kick inches over the bar, and Conroy also had to be called upon to defend well against a powerful run from Sinclair.
Chelsea saw off that spell and regained control of a contest they had, in truth, bossed from the very start. Abraham almost completed another hat-trick when his 25-yard curler was tipped onto the crossbar by Fulton, and Loftus-Cheek should then have done better with a strike after getting the better of Cleary. Traore – having moved to centre-forward for the final ten minutes, also went close whilst the visiting goalkeeper had to keep Colkett and Reece Mitchell out as Chelsea enjoyed themselves at the death.
It meant a first win since August – that too coming against Liverpool – in league action for Chelsea, who now have to wait until the end of November before their next match. There is a Barclays Under-21 Premier League Cup match away to Southampton to be scheduled in the mean time, with details of that to be confirmed.
Chelsea: Blackman, Aina, Tomori, Conroy, Dasilva, Colkett (c), Traore, Scott (Mitchell 67), Abraham (Muheim 78), Loftus-Cheek, Musonda
Subs not Used: Collins, Suljic, Wright
Goal: Traore ’40, Loftus-Cheek ’46, Abraham ’51 (pen), ‘52
Booked: Colkett, Tomori
Liverpool: Fulton, Whelan, Maguire, Cleary, Brewitt, Chirivella, Wilson (Marsh 78), Phillips (Trickett-Smith 65), Sinclair, O’Hanlon, Madger Gomes (Dunn 65)
Subs not Used: Firth, Virtue
Booked: Maguire, Chirivella