With both squads looking to close out encouraging preseasons on a high note, Chelsea defeated AS Roma in a 2-1 thriller in front of an excited Washington, D.C. crowd on Saturday night.
The Serie A side took an early lead on a calamitous mistake by Mark Schwarzer, but Frank Lampard equalized in the second half and Romelu Lukaku put in the game-winner in the 89th minute for the Blues.
Chelsea started the match with a furious attacking pace, looking like they would overwhelm Roma in the opening minutes. In fact, it took just 120 seconds to establish the first legitimate chance of the contest.
Off a lightning-fast counterattack and a few gorgeous long balls, Michael Essien found possession at the top of the box, but his attempt on goal was batted away nicely by a Morgan De Sanctis diving save.
The Blues continued to press on, however, and in the first 10 minutes, Roma really couldn't get the ball out of their own half. It was all for naught, though, as Chelsea wasn't able to convert any of their chances to turn the offensive possession into goals.
As the tempo slowed, Roma began to control more of the possession in the midfield and in the 21st minute broke through—although it didn't have much to do with their own doing.
Francesco Totti sent a harmless through ball into Chelsea's box, which Ryan Bertrand controlled and sent back to his keeper. But from there, the newly signed Schwarzer put on a horror show. His first touch was horrendous, going off the post, back through his legs (nice nut-meg by the post, though) and right to Lamela for the easy tap-in:
Schwarzer would get a little bit of redemption later in the half, however, making a nice save on an open shot by Pablo Osvaldo from 12 yards out to keep his squad within striking distance.
Much like the first half, Chelsea came out of the locker room with an attacking presence that looked far more dangerous than the Italian side's, but this time it resulted in the ball hitting the back of the net.
In the 60th minute, Eden Hazard fed Demba Ba, who hit a pretty flick through to Lampard (all subs). From there, the veteran Englishman hit a clinical finish to the far post to equalize.
Chelsea Malang gave us a look at the fantastic buildup and finish:
The pace continued to quicken from there, with both squads creating plenty of chances. Still, it was Chelsea that looked more interested in finding a winner, and in the 89th minute, they did just that.
Eden Hazard made a world-class run down to the touch line, where he had a deflected pass bounce to Lukaku, who broke Roma's hearts with the finish.
David Luiz, Chelsea: B
Many were most anxious to see how David Luiz would perform. Not only has the rumored Barcelona target been in the middle of transform rumors this summer, but he has played sparingly.
Early on, the rust was clear. He had an atrocious early tackle and failed to convert on a couple of long balls, where he is normally accurate.
As the game transpired, though, the Brazilian looked more comfortable, making some nice interceptions and tackles in the back before coming off at the start of the second half.
All things considered, it was an encouraging performance from the man who played just over 30 total minutes in the Champions Cup.
Morgan De Sanctis, Roma: B
Roma's new signing gave his club a glimpse of what he will be able to provide this season, even at the veteran age of 36.
He gave up two goals, yes, but there wasn't a whole lot he could do to keep out Lampard's terrific strike, and on Lukaku's winner, his defense seriously let him down on Hazard's run.
Other than those, though, he held off Chelsea's dangerous—and at times extremely persistent—attack in an efficient manner.
He made some difficult saves, he came off his line at the right times and, overall, he was just extremely solid.
Roma should feel confident with the Italian and former Napoli man in goal for the 2013 season.
Both clubs will now set their sights on league play, with Chelsea starting the EPL season against Hull City on Sunday, August 18, and Roma taking on Livorno in Serie A on August 25.
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