The Blues will play AC Milan with a place in the Guinness International Champions Cup at stake, after a comfortable 2-0 win over their city rivals Inter in Indianapolis.
Two goals inside the opening half-hour, an Oscar stunner followed by an Eden Hazard penalty, put us in control of the match, and when our opponents were reduced to 10 men after the break the Italians were always up against it.
While winning matches is always imperative, even during pre-season, Jose Mourinho will have been pleased he was able to give those players who took part in the Confederations Cup some much-needed minutes on the pitch, while also managing the rest of the squad carefully.
Mourinho opted to select a strong, experienced back four in front of Petr Cech, with John Terry skippering the team alongside Gary Cahill. The full-back spots were taken by Branislav Ivanovic and Ashley Cole.
In midfield, youngster Marco van Ginkel partnered Ramires, with the width provided by Victor Moses and Eden Hazard.
Oscar was the only one of the six players involved at the Confederations Cup to start the game, operating in a central role behind lone striker Romelu Lukaku.
Having comfortably won all three matches on our tour of Asia, the game against Inter presented our first serious test of pre-season.
It was the Blues, however, who threatened first, and we were unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty inside three minutes when Oscar was brought down by Andrea Ranocchia following good work by both Hazard and Lukaku.
It took until the 10th minute for Inter to go close, and we breathed a huge collective sigh of relief as Fredy Guarin’s well-hit volley flew inches past Cech’s right-hand post.
Two minutes later, though, it was Chelsea who took the lead, and the deadlock was broken with a goal of the highest quality.
As an Inter move broke down deep inside our half we broke at speed through Moses, who was allowed to advance to the edge of the penalty area. With options to his left and right in the form of Oscar and Lukaku, the Nigerian opted for the former, who curled an exquisite strike beyond Samir Handanovic into the top corner.
Oscar only returned to training earlier this week following his summer break, but he looked as lively as any other player on the pitch during the opening exchanges.
Chelsea had certainly started the brighter of the two sides, particularly from an attacking point of view, but the Inter threat remained, and Cech was forced into a brilliant save to deny Rodrigo Palacio in the 20th minute after his shot deflected towards goal off the leg of Van Ginkel.
Five minutes later Oscar had a good opportunity to double our advantage – and his own personal tally – when he raced on to a wonderful pass by Hazard, but with Handanovic advancing off his line, the Brazilian opted for the lob and put too much weight on his strike.
Within three minutes, however, it was 2-0, but the second goal came amid controversial circumstances.
As Moses picked the ball up and drove towards goal, he was clearly fouled by Alvaro Pereira, and the referee showed no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot, much to the frustration of the Inter players, who argued the incident had taken place outside the box.
Replays appeared to show that there was some justification in their complaints, but with the decision already made, Hazard strode forward and calmly sent Handanovic the wrong way with his second penalty in as many games.
In truth, we’d clearly benefited from what was a poor decision, but Walter Mazzarri’s side could have no complaints about their two-goal deficit, with the Blues in total control during the opening 45 minutes.
The Serie A outfit were struggling to live with the pace and movement of Moses, Oscar and Hazard, while at the other end, Terry and Cahill were seldom troubled.
As anticipated, Mourinho reshuffled his pack at the break, with Mark Schwarzer replacing Cech in goal, while Michael Essien and Juan Mata were also introduced to the action, at the expense of Moses and Oscar.
The changes to personnel meant Van Ginkel was now partnered by Essien in midfield, with Ramires moving out to play wide on the right and Mata taking up a central role.
The second half began in a similar manner to how the first ended, with the Blues enjoying plenty of possession and knocking the ball around confidently.
Hazard went close with a fizzing effort, before Lukaku crashed a strike against the foot of the post from a tight angle as we looked to put the game to bed.
Inter’s task was made all the more difficult just before the hour mark when they were reduced to ten men, Hugo Campagnaro the player seeing red for a nasty foul on Terry as the two challenged for the ball in the middle of the park.
Mourinho made two more changes soon after, with David Luiz replacing Cahill and Lukaku making way for Demba Ba, as he attempted to give each player the necessary game time.
As the clock ticked down, our one-man advantage was allowing us to control the pace of the game, with Inter tiring as they attempted to win back possession.
Ryan Bertrand and Fernando Torres, the last of our substitutes, entered the action with 18 minutes left to play, with the Spaniard playing as the focal point of our attack and Ba shifting out wide on the left.
Torres went close shortly after coming on but was unable to get enough power behind his strike, while Ba tested Handanovic with a powerful strike from long-range late on.
The damage had been done before the break, however, and it’s the Blues who will now face AC Milan in New Jersey on Sunday.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech (Schwarzer h/t); Ivanovic (Azpilicueta 66), Cahill (David Luiz 59), Terry (c), Cole (Bertrand 72); Ramires, Van Ginkel (Mikel 66); Moses (Essien h/t), Oscar (Mata h/t), Hazard (Torres 72); Lukaku (Ba 59).
Scorers Oscar 12, Hazard 28 (pen)
Booked Ivanovic 42
Inter Milan (3-5-2): Samir; Campagnaro, Ranocchia, Jesus; Nagatomo, Cambiasso (c), Guarin, Alvarez, Pereira; Palacio, Icardi
Booked Guarin 28, Cambiasso 45