Chelsea exited the Barclays Under-21 Premier League International Cup at the Semi Final stage on Thursday evening as they went down 2-1 to PSV Eindhoven at Aldershot’s EBB Stadium.
A Kasey Palmer free kick had given the home team a sixth-minute lead but that was wiped out by an own goal midway through the first half, and a Steven Bergwijn goal just before half time proved enough for PSV to advance despite a second half full of Chelsea pressure.
As always, Dan Davies’ match gallery HERE is the best place to revisit the action.
Andy Myers, who has taken charge of every match in the competition, made four changes from the side that earned a point at Southampton on Monday night. Mitchell Beeney returned from a brief stay at Newport County with Brad Collins making way between the sticks, Trevoh Chalobah came into the centre of defence to partner Dion Conroy, and there was a re-jig in attack where Tammy Abraham and Reece Mitchell replaced Mason Mount and Charlie Colkett.
PSV have had an up and down season in the Dutch second tier but, by the very nature of playing regular men’s professional football, they came into the match with something of an advantage and counted Adam Maher, a five-cap Netherlands international, amongst their starting number. They were however powerless to stop Palmer opening the scoring with little more than five minutes played when he grabbed his 13th of another spectacular season with an unstoppable free kick from the edge of the area.
One nearly became two when Abraham produced a delightful backheel to release left-back Kevin Wright clear on goal, but as he sized up his options the visiting goalkeeper, Luuk Koopmans, came out to smother his eventual shot. It was a fairly notable moment too as it represented Chelsea’s last really positive moment of a first half eventually controlled by PSV, who would go into the break ahead.
Their equaliser came in fortuitous circumstances; Maher’s shot from a neatly-worked corner was cleared off the line by the alert Wright, but it unfortunately careered into Chalobah and back into the unguarded goal to make it 1-1. Maher then sliced well wide after a swift exchange with Bergwijn and forward Alexander Boljevic was guilty of a glaring miss after being played in by midfielder Kenneth Paal.
Kiwomya had a similar chance to Wright as half time approached after being released by Josimar Quintero, but he too was guilty of taking too long to make a decision, and PSV punished him with their second goal. A long ball over the top gave something for Bergwijn to chase down and, in a finish reminiscent of Gianfranco Zola’s final Chelsea goal against Everton, he flicked a deft lob over Beeney and into the far corner.
Mukhtar Ali came on for the second half with Chalobah heading in the other direction and Jordan Houghton dropping in to control the game from centre-back. The Blues began to move the ball better in the middle of the pitch and were almost level when Mitchell unleashed his devastating pace down the left before cutting back to find Abraham, who saw Koopmans scramble his effort clear with inches to spare.
Quintero curled a high, looping one just over the bar as the hour mark approached and Abraham followed with a scuffed effort after more stellar down down the right by captain Fankaty Dabo. With twenty minutes remaining Myers sent for the big guns as Charlie Colkett and Jay Dasilva added their considerable talents to proceedings, but it was the visitors who went closest to scoring next with one of their own. Luis Beto Da Silva had been on for fewer than thirty seconds when Ramon Pascal put the ball on a plate for him, but the finish was wayward from the newcomer.
Despite their territorial advantage, though, Chelsea couldn’t fashion enough clear shots on goal, with PSV defending well and forcing them to the periphery at every opportunity. A late flurry of balls launched into the box caused havoc but the Dutch side held out to seal their place in the Final, where they’ll face either FC Porto or Villarreal.
For Chelsea, a busy three weeks continues this weekend when the Under-18s head North to take on Manchester City in search of an Under-18 league title, whilst the Under-21s are back in action on Monday night away to Reading; both matches will be on Chelsea TV.
Chelsea: Beeney, Dabo (c), Chalobah (Ali 45), Conroy, Wright (Dasilva 71), Houghton, Kiwomya, Quintero (Colkett 71), Abraham, Palmer, Mitchell
Subs not Used: Collins, Scott, Wakefield
Goals: Palmer ‘6
Booked: Palmer, Houghton
PSV: Koopmans, Van Vlerken, Koch, De Wijs (Loof 75), Alberto, Leemans, Pascal, Paal, Bergwijn (Gudmundsson 89), Maher, Boljevic (Beto Da Silva 75)
Subs not Used: Duarte,, Bertrams
Goals: Chalobah ‘16 og, Bergwijn ‘43