Chelsea cruised past Inter Milan tonight 2-0 to set up a meeting with AC Milan on Sunday in New York in the International Champions Cup (FOX Soccer, 6:30 PM ET). First half goals from Oscar and Eden Hazard sealed the tie in front of an estimated 40,000 fans at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium.
It was a comfortable and assured performance from Chelsea as they marked the return of Jose Mourinho as their manager with a meaningful game.
Chelsea have coasted through their pre-season to date, whipping three so-called “all-star” teams on their Asian tour, but this was their first meeting with a legitimate opponent. There were also warm greetings for Mourinho from the other dugout: he won the Champions League in 2010 at the helm of Inter Milan.
But off the result, there seems to be a large gap in talent between these two sides. Chelsea looked dangerous every time they were on the ball, while Inter only got sporadic production from their top line as their defenders were pressed back most of the evening. Until the inevitable flood of substitutes in the second half, this was a game steered by Oscar and Hazard, with Mauro Icardi and Rodrigo Palacio reduced to spectators.
Fredy Guarin might have changed the tenor of the game had his audacious volley in the 11th minute found the back of the net, but it missed wide left and only minutes later Chelsea would take the lead for good. On a clean breakaway, Victor Moses evaded traffic, and squared for the young playmaker Oscar, who scored a sumptuous goal past a helpless Samir Handanovic.
Palacio tried to level things with a shot from range that took a deflection off John Terry, forcing Petr Cech to make a one-handed grab, but that was as close as Inter would come for the rest of the night. Ten minutes later, Moses would be felled on the edge of the area, and on the advice of the linesman, a penalty was awarded. The call looked dodgy but Hazard’s penalty was not, a slick finish that erased all hope for the struggling Italians.
Inter would go further in the hole when Hugo Campagnaro was sent off for a bad stamp on Terry at the hour mark. It was a bizarre moment for a friendly match, and a mark of the frustration and humiliation Inter were feeling.
Inter now await Valencia in the loser’s bracket in New York this coming Sunday (4 PM ET, FOX Soccer). Walter Mazzari’s side can finish no higher than fifth in the tournament, but Mazzari seems to have greater concerns ahead of the start of the Serie A campaign.