X

Eden Hazard, Chelsea Finish Pre-Season with Shootout Win vs. Lyon in ICC Play

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistAugust 7, 2018

Chelsea's Italian head coach Maurizio Sarri (L) talks with Chelsea's Spanish defender Cesar Azpilicueta on the touchline during the English FA Community Shield football match between Chelsea and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium in north London on August 5, 2018. (Photo by Ian KINGTON / AFP) / NOT FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING USE / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE        (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)
IAN KINGTON/Getty Images

Chelsea ended their pre-season schedule with a 5-4 penalty shootout victory over Lyon on Tuesday after they drew 0-0 after 90 minutes at Stamford Bridge, ending their 2018 International Champions Cup campaign without a win. 

Eden Hazard came off the bench for his first pre-season appearance and immediately came to Chelsea's rescue with the winning spot-kick after Chelsea's new summer signing, Rob Green, saved from Pape Diop. 

Maurizio Sarri fielded a much-changed lineup from other recent friendlies and offered starting opportunities to a number of players, while N'Golo Kante was also welcomed back for his first outing of pre-season.

The Blues have four days' respite before they open their Premier League season at Huddersfield Town on Saturday, while Lyon begin their Ligue 1 campaign against Amiens on Sunday. 

            

Ethan Ampadu Proves He's Ready to Take Sarri's Side by Storm

Sarri's prominent use of Ethan Ampadu since taking over the Chelsea helm has indicated he has big plans for the young Welsh defender, and Tuesday's outing meant he's featured in all four of their pre-season games, starting in three.

Ampadu, 17, might have started in the FA Community Shield clash with Manchester City were he not sidelined by injury.

Author Mark Worrall highlighted it took him little time to integrate back into the setup against Lyon: "CB pairing of Ampadu & Christensen looking bang on the money in Sarri's system. Tackling, blocking & distribution out of defence is immaculate."

The calm he brought at the back line—as he has done for most of his pre-season minutes—was particularly impressive given the widespread changes made to assemble this largely second-choice selection.

Lyon manager Bruno Genesio, on the other hand, fielded what was about as close as he'll get to a first-choice lineup, and Goal's Nizaar Kinsella took that into account when praising Ampadu's impact: "17-year-old Ethan Ampadu is just casually proving his class against Champions League opposition, no one is surprised by it anymore."

After sowing some seeds under Antonio Conte last term, Ampadu looks to have gained Sarri's trust and has shown all the signs in pre-season that he's mature enough to offer first-team competition this term. 

David Luiz is a welcome face back fit and healthy while Antonio Rudiger is settling more at the club, but Gary Cahill is no longer assured of his place and grants Ampadu hope of a promotion within the ranks.

Chelsea writer Sripad even rated the centre-back's displays above that of another Chelsea prospect who has risen this summer: "Tbh, Ampadu has impressed me more than [Callum] Hudson-Odoi so far this pre-season."

Andreas Christensen made headway in Chelsea's first team last season, but Ampadu gives the London club another young defensive presence showcasing huge potential.

Sarri may even feel comfortable enough to nurture that talent at Stamford Bridge rather than farm him anywhere else, and a possible breakthrough season could signal a rare victory for a Chelsea academy star in the first team.

           

Chelsea Hopefuls Struggle to Grasp Last-Gasp Chance

Even with the pressure of knowing this would be their last chance to leave an impression on new boss Sarri before the season gets underway, there were those in the home lineup who didn't make the most of their rare chance.

Tammy Abraham was afforded a start but failed to make much of a dent on Lyon's back line. However, it was the midfield trio of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Danny Drinkwater who inspired writer Liam Twomey least: "I don't think we'll be seeing it again, but the Loftus-Cheek/Drinkwater/Bakayoko midfield trio is painfully lacking in forward passing."

The lack of ingenuity was clear among that threesome, and it was only after the likes of Jorginho, Kante, Hazard and Ross Barkley came on that Chelsea really started to threaten Anthony Lopes' goal.

Blues fans may be especially displeased to see last summer's £40 million signing from AS Monaco, Bakayoko, fail to impress yet again, and not for the first time during this pre-season, said Sripad: "Bakayoko has been so quiet that I forgot he was on the pitch."

Sarri has succeeded in rousing form from some almost forgotten stars so far, such as Barkley and Davide Zappacosta, but others will sense their season prospects perhaps aren't looking bright after Tuesday.

One who did look to benefit from the game despite not managing to break the deadlock was Willian, who captained the side after speculation regarding his future at the club, per journalist Simon Johnson: "Willian received a loud round of cheers from #cfc fans at Shed End as he stepped up to take a corner just now. Clearly very happy that he's still at the club."

Emerson Palmieri is another whose place at the club looks to have been boosted of late, and he could hand Marcos Alonso a bigger challenge for the left-back role this term.

A shortened pre-season meant it would always be a race to gain Sarri's attention this summer, and some may be condemned to a reserve role if they failed to make the most of their minutes against Lyon.

🚨 SPORTS NEWS ➡️ YOUR INBOX

The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.