Chelsea’s Development Squad made it seven matches unbeaten as they defeated Manchester United in style by a 3-1 scoreline at The EBB Stadium on Friday evening.
Despite trailing early to an Axel Tuanzebe header, Adi Viveash’s boys enjoyed the better of proceedings almost from start to finish and were quickly back on terms through Dujon Sterling’s fourth goal of an increasingly productive season.
Jay Dasilva’s missed penalty threatened to throw a spanner into the works but he made amends by laying on the go-ahead goal early in the second half, with Josimar Quintero the delighted recipient, and a clinical finish at the death from Jacob Maddox sealed a result to go with a top class performance.
The Blues had come from behind to claim a result in four of their last five league outings and, despite starting on top on an unseasonably warm evening in Hampshire, they found themselves a goal down once again. It came from United skipper Tuanzebe, who glanced home from a delicious Sean Goss corner a little short of midway through a first half that had, up until that point, lacked notable incident.
It came thick and fast thereafter though as Chelsea immediately looked to re-establish parity. Fikayo Tomori built play patiently with Dasilva down the left and, unchallenged and invited to shoot by the Reds’ defence, he did just that, beating goalkeeper Kieran O’Hara but not the woodwork as his effort thumped the foot of the goalpost and bounced away to safety. Still, the pressure increased and they were back on terms soon enough.
It came from a move conjured up by Mason Mount, who was pulling all the strings in midfield. His through ball found Iké Ugbo on one of his numerous runs into the channels, pulling Tuanzebe with them. The pair had a thoroughly engaging battle throughout the game and, although it initially appeared as if the latter had won this tussle, Ugbo recovered enough to slip Sterling in, and he was able to prod home past O’Hara with the aid of a deflection from six yards out.
Viveash’s boys then went through the gears in a bid to take a lead into the half time break with them, and they had the perfect chance to do so when Mount won a penalty after a clumsy foul by opposite number eight Matthew Willock. Dasilva took the responsibility, having scored twice from the spot already this season, but O’Hara denied him as the left wing back went the same way once again.
Ugbo brought more work out of the United stopper after Mount had flicked him in behind and it was then Mount’s turn to spurn an opening, when Quintero’s exquisite floating pass from right to left picked him out at the far post for a volley that was always going to prove a hard ask from a tight angle. Quintero himself curled inches wide late in the half after neatly side-stepping Regan Poole’s attentions and that, as much as any, was the one moment from open play where they really should have found the back of the net.
The second half began with Tomori limping off injured with a recurrence of a knee problem he picked up earlier in the match after a collision with Josh Harrop, but within a minute of Joseph Colley coming onto replace him, his team-mates had eked out the lead their football had deserved. Dasilva knifed his way through down the left, leaving red shirts trailing in his wake, and had the composure to look up and find Quintero wide open in the middle, where he was able to adjust his body to steer beyond O’Hara for 2-1.
Having had their foot on the gas for the best part of half an hour, Chelsea were now faced with the need to take the sting out of the game and consolidate their lead whilst keeping Man Utd at arm’s length. They did it well, with the back three physical when required and having both Sterling and especially Dasilva as regular outlets on the flanks to relieve any pressure they found themselves under.
Ugbo came into his own in the final ten minutes, with masterful centre-forward play at the end of a great shift, and with the clock ticking into stoppage time, played a part in the clinching goal. Four consecutive corners proved too much for United to withstand, the last of them culminating in a huge penalty box scramble where Ugbo used his frame and touch to keep the pressure on and eventually allow substitute Maddox to lash the loose ball home to seal a very deserved victory.
It was a fine way to sign off the Premier League 2 campaign for 2016, but there are still a pair of fixtures yet to come before Christmas for this group in the Premier League International Cup. The first of those comes a week from tonight against Dinamo Zagreb, whilst they then host Swansea City on December 22nd with both fixtures not only at Aldershot, but also live on Chelsea TV.
Chelsea: Collins, Sterling, Dabo (c), T.Chalobah, Tomori (Colley 51), Scott, Quintero (Maddox 78), Mount, Ugbo, Van Ginkel, J.Dasilva.
Subs not Used: Muheim, Thompson, Sammut
Goals: Sterling ’29, Quintero ’53, Maddox ‘90
Manchester United: O’Hara, Olosunde, Poole, Tuanzebe (c), Scott (Barlow 90), Goss, Redmond, Willock (Kehinde 68), McTominay (Doughty 81), Harrop, Mitchell
Subs not Used: M.Johnstone, Boonen
Goals: Tuanzebe ‘19
Booked: Goss, Harrop