Chelsea got off to a winning start in the 2009 World Football Challenge, beating Italian Champions Inter Milan by two goals to nil.
The game was played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California which hosted the 1994 World Cup Final between Brazil and Italy. As on that occasion it was to be another Italian disappointment as the Londoners ran out comfortable winners.
It was also the first time Jose Mourinho had come up against his former club since taking over at Inter.
Chelsea fielded a strong line up with all the regulars over the past few seasons starting. Inter went with a slightly weakened side with star players Ibrahimovic, Mancini, Materazzi and new signing Milito all on the bench.
The London side dominated large parts of the game and should have taken the lead after three minutes as John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho failed to find the target with headers of successive corners.
Carvalho then had to be alert as he made a vital interception from Patrick Vieira’s through ball as Inter looked to counter attack. Two minutes later man of the match Frank Lampard played through Didier Drogba who took it around the keeper and squared the ball but failed to a Chelsea player as the chance went begging.
The big Ivorian did not have to wait much longer as the deadlock was broken on ten minutes. Drogba turned and unleashed a speculative shot from 25 yards which took a slight deflection on its way past Inter keeper Belec Vid. It was a poor effort from the Nerazzurri shot stopper who allowed the ball to slip through his fingers.
Chelsea continued to pressurise their opposition with the excellent Lampard striking a sweet half volley from 20 yards which went agonisingly wide followed by a free kick from 30 yards which dipped just over.
Inter gradually found their way into the game with out lacking any penetration and Chelsea were content to play on the counter attack.
Kalou was played in behind the Inter defence by Lampard but attempted to cross instead of going for goal with Belec collecting easily. The Ivory Coast striker was denied again on the stroke off half time through an excellent challenge by the uncompromising Ivan Cordoba.
Chelsea went into half time with a one goal lead and having outplayed their Italian counterparts.
Both teams started the second half with changes as Diego Milito came on for Inter and Nicholas Anelka and new boy Daniel Sturridge taking the park for Chelsea.
It was Sturridge who made the immediate impact as his shot was blocked (handled) by Nicholas Burdisso and the referee had little hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot.
Lampard stepped up to coolly slot away a deserved goal on 50 minutes and wrap up victory for the West Londoners.
The game fizzled out after the second goal and was frequently punctuated by substitutions which saw the introduction of Ibrahimovic on the hour mark and an appearance for young English keeper Ross Turnbull among others who did well to save a low struck free kick from the big Swedish striker.
Carlo Ancelotti would have been happy with a solid display from his team ahead of Sunday’s game against his former club AC Milan. For Jose Mourinho’s Inter it was a second game without a win.
By Faisal Hanif
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