Cesar Azpilicueta played the full 90 minutes as our Under-21s, bolstered by a few more experienced heads, entertained Charlton Athletic in a friendly at Cobham earlier today.
The 23-year-old, making his first appearance in a Chelsea shirt since completing his switch from Marseille, started at right-back in a side which also contained Ross Turnbull and Paulo Ferreira, as the Blues were beaten 3-2.
The watching Roberto Di Matteo will have taken heart from a solid display by the Spaniard, who was defensively sound throughout, while also offering a glimpse of his attacking threat with a delightful cross from which Adam Phillip went close.
It was Phillip who almost broke the deadlock in a first half which was devoid of any real goalmouth action, testing the Charlton goalkeeper with two dipping free-kicks in quick succession, before the visitors took the lead with almost the last kick of the half.
They doubled their advantage midway through the second spell, but with Andy Myers – who took charge in the absence of Dermot Drummy – introducing Todd Kane, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Patrick Bamford in a bid to get back into the game, we pulled a goal back through Phillip, who converted from the penalty spot having won the kick himself.
A minute later we were level, Billy Clifford stabbing home from close-range after the keeper had spilled a Loftus-Cheek effort, but with the Blues now in the ascendancy and pressing for a winner, Charlton restored their lead, scoring the decisive goal following a quick break.
It was a disappointing afternoon in terms of the result, but with no league fixture this weekend due to the international break, the game was important for maintaining fitness levels and giving certain players some much-needed game time.
Our Under-21s return to competitive action on Friday 14 September when we take on Liverpool at Brentford’s Griffin Park, kick-off 7pm. Tickets are available on the night, priced at £3 for adults and £1 for juniors and seniors.