Chelsea had a disappointing end to their 2017-18 pre-season tour of Singapore after losing 2-1 to Italian giants Inter Milan, who were crowned 2017 International Champions Cup winners at the National Stadium in Kallang on Saturday.
Stevan Jovetic converted a controversial penalty at the second time of asking on the stroke of half-time, and Geoffrey Kondogbia's own goal in the 74th minute served only as a consolation for Chelsea, as Ivan Perisic had doubled Inter's lead after the break.
Alvaro Morata and Michy Batshuayi started together for the first time following Morata's move from Real Madrid on July 21, while Jovetic led the line for the Nerazzurri.
The Blues have a little more than one week to prepare for their FA Community Shield matchup against Arsenal on Aug. 6 at Wembley Stadium, while Inter will face Spanish sides Villarreal and Real Betis before their Serie A season gets underway on Aug. 20 against Fiorentina.
Inter began a humid evening of action with the first real chance of the fixture and were unfortunate not to go in front after Antonio Candreva streaked into the Chelsea box before being denied by Blues keeper Thibaut Courtois.
Roberto Gagliardini was the next to test Courtois and blazed narrowly wide as Batshuayi looked like Chelsea's biggest goal threat. The Mirror's Jack Rathborn hailed manager Luciano Spalletti's impact on an improved Inter:
The first half-hour of the match failed to produce much in terms of goalmouth action as the hot conditions took their toll on the players, although both squads were happy to contest in a physical encounter.
That approach went against the west Londoners, however, when Cesar Azpilicueta received a harsh-looking penalty for a foul on Jovetic on the brink of half-time, with the referee dismissing Chelsea's protests.
Courtois succeeded in palming the Montenegrin's spot-kick at the first time of asking, although Jovetic was on hand to sweep home the rebound, and Eurosport's Siavoush Fallahi remarked on his opportunistic celebration:
Despite falling behind just prior to the interval, Chelsea returned for the second half knowing they were still in the fixture, particularly given the fact Morata had shown so much promise for his new team in attack.
Chelsea's misery was compounded, however, when Perisic sprang clear down the left-hand side and slotted a powerful finish inside Courtois' far corner in the 53rd minute, with commentator Ian Darke acknowledging the interest he's drawn this summer:
The fixture was an uphill battle for Chelsea from that point on, and it became increasingly difficult to break down Spalletti's Nerazzurri, who appear to have formed a habit of being stubborn and stingier under their new boss.
Central defender Antonio Rudiger, signed from AS Roma early in July, came on for his Chelsea debut with more than 30 minutes remaining, while attackers Jeremie Boga and Charly Musonda replaced Morata and Willian, respectively, in the 65th minute.
But Chelsea manager Antonio Conte saw his men struggle to carve open many chances on goal, giving the sense that without key men such as Eden Hazard, Pedro and Diego Costa, their other options weren't up to the task.
In fact, not even their goal came via a Chelsea player, as Kondogbia pummeled an attempted pass back to goalkeeper Daniele Padelli late in the contest, only to lob his own stopper from 40 yards out, via Andy Ha of football.london:
Chelsea's pre-season started with great promise after a 3-0 win over Arsenal, a result they'll look to replicate when they meet the Gunners in the Community Shield—a chance to win their first trophy of 2017-18 in earnest.
Things are looking up for Inter in a major way under the tutelage of Spalletti, meanwhile, as they have beaten Lyon, Bayern Munich and the Blues in the space of five days and topped the ICC's Singapore table as a result.