Despite Chelsea kicking off their Premier League campaign away at Huddersfield on Saturday, there was still time for one more pre-season fixture on Tuesday night. The Blues welcomed Lyon to Stamford Bridge in the final International Champions Cup game of the summer and after playing out a goalless draw in normal time, Sarri’s side went on to beat the French side 5-4 on penalties.
Willian played from the start, his first appearance of pre-season while Ruben Loftus-Cheek was also handed a place in the starting line-up. The game started as most friendlies do: with a low tempo and a lack of full exertion at the risk of injury. The visitors were on the front foot in the opening exchanges and their first real chance came courtesy of a long-range strike from Ferland Mendy which whistled just wide of the post.
That chance came after Loftus-Cheek was unable to properly connect with his effort following some great build-up play with Willian. It did seem as though the Brazilian was the FA Cup winners’ main attacking threat, a familiar trend from last season, but his darting runs often ended in disappointment.
Academy goalkeeper, Marcin Bulka stepped in for the evening amidst talks of Thibaut Courtois’ departure and Kepa Arrizabalaga’s apparent arrival. The Polish youngster was called into action halfway through the first half, denying Memphis Depay’s curling effort which had been brilliantly worked.
Willian then came closest to breaking the deadlock with a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area that was awarded after Tammy Abraham had been upended. As everyone in the stadium expected to see the ball nestle in the net, Anthony Lopes made a fantastic diving save to palm the ball behind for a Chelsea corner. That brought an end to a very tepid first-half and unfortunately, it didn’t drastically improve in the second period.
Although, within 10 minutes of the restart the Blues hit the post as Loftus-Cheek raced through the Lyon defence only to see his deft chip hit the post after beating Lopes. Then, World Cup winner N’Golo Kante was introduced to the action to a rapturous round of applause alongside his new midfield partner, Jorginho. It was the former Leicester midfielder that had the next chance, failing to slide the ball past the opposition keeper following an adventurous run through on goal.
If you thought Kante received a lot of love when he was brought on then you should’ve heard the reaction of the Chelsea fans when Eden Hazard came on. The Belgium star was greeted by a mixture of excitement and relief that certainly wouldn’t have been out of place celebrating a goal. Other than Robert Green coming on for his first, and possibly only, Blues appearance, nothing else happened from there so it went to one of the most pointless penalty shoot-outs of all-time.
Jordan Ferri scored the first spot-kick for Lyon and Jorginho made it 1-1. Marcelo restored his side’s lead before a cheeky Panenka from Ross Barkley brought it back level. Amine Gouiri, Marcos Alonso, Kenny Tete and Cesar Azpilicueta made no mistake which made the score 4-4. Hazard then had the chance to seal the shoot-out victory after Pepe Diop saw his effort saved and the former Ligue 1 Player of the Season did just that, calming slotting away his spot-kick.
Now, attention switches to the league campaign which begins on Saturday, two days after the closure of the Premier League transfer window.