Chelsea were beaten in the final of the Guinness International Champions Cup in Miami on Wednesday night.
In our first defeat of the pre-season campaign, Jose Mourinho’s side came undone against the manager’s former side on a warm Florida night, but still showed positive signs against a strong opposition managed by ex-Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti.
Real were deservedly ahead early on through Marcelo, but Ramires struck back almost immediately for Chelsea with a delicate chip after bursting through the Real defence from midfield, and it looked as though the Blues were starting to settle, only for Cristiano Ronaldo to fire his side ahead once more with a stunning free-kick on the half-hour.
An even end to the fisrst half was followed by early Chelsea domination in the second, before Ronaldo’s header delivered a killer blow shortly before the hour mark.
From there on in it became a fitness exercise, with most Chelsea starters making it beyond the 70-minute mark, while some completed the full 90 with just one more outing to come, against Roma on Saturday.
As promised by Jose Mourinho when he spoke to Chelsea TV on Tuesday, Frank Lampard started the game in central midfield, his first pre-season action, while David Luiz remained in Washington DC with a minor hamstring problem. Also left behind was Juan Mata.
The back five has taken a familiar look in the last couple of games, with Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, John Terry and Ashley Cole lining up in front of Petr Cech, while Lampard was joined in central midfield by Marco van Ginkel and Ramires as the manager opted for 4-3-3 with Eden Hazard, Oscar and Romelu Lukaku the front three.
Former Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti fielded Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Mesut Ozil in his front three, with Luka Modric and Sami Khedira behind in midfield.
Following an extravagant pre-game show, the teams emerged under a spotlight to fireworks and a thudding soundtrack. Further fireworks greeted the kick-off, which was some 15 minutes behind schedule thanks to Chelsea’s late arrival at the Sun Life Stadium.
The first chance of the game fell to Benzema who had evaded the offside trap down the Madrid left and shot hard and low at Cech’s near post, forcing the goalkeeper to push it around the post for a corner, while Ivanovic then blocked an effort from the fleet-footed Ronaldo.
Within a minute of that second save, however, the Spaniards were in front as Marcelo danced forward from let-back, created a yard of space inside the area with a step-over and found the bottom corner through the legs of Cahill.
Chelsea’s response was strong and immediate. A one touch-build-up involving Hazard and Lukakueventually found Ramires, who slipped between Real’s defensive pairing of Pepe and Sergio Ramos before nonchalantly chipping the grounded Iker Casillas to equalise. The Brazilian boy loves a chipped goal against the Spanish big guns.
Within a few more moments we could have had a penalty whn Oscar went down in the box, but nothing was awarded, and then at the other end Van Ginkel was penalised harshly but Ronaldo fired the free-kick high and wide.
Casillas spilled a Lampard drive from range before Modric drove just wide at the other end, and then Ronaldo was given a second opportunity from a dead ball, which he duly took after being felled by Ivanovic.
Thirty yards from goal, the Portuguese stepped up and drove the ball over the ball but just under Cech’s crossbar, leaving the keeper with no chance whatsoever.
The remainder of the half was played out with fierce competition, each side earning a yellow card, Lampard for late lunge on Modric, Alvaro Arbeloa for a tug on Hazard, but there were no further sights of goal, a Lampard chip easily saved by Casillas our only effort.
Three changes at the break saw Fernando Torres, Victor Moses and Kevin De Bruyne introduced for the Blues, while Arbeloa was replaced for Real Madrid.
Hazard was quickly into top gear, driving at the Real goal from deep before shooting from around 25 yards, Casillas nervously pushing it wide, and then De Bruyne’s shot was rewarded a corner which he took himself, finding Ivanovic whose flick almost beat the keeper, forcing a one-handed tip over the bar.
On 52 minutes, Ramires found a gap in the Real defence with a perfectly weighted pass for Hazard, but the Belgian could not beat Casillas who saved with his legs before pouncing on the loose ball.
We would be made to pay in under five minutes, when Isco cut back onto his right foot and sent in a cross to the middle of the area, where Ronaldo had gone unchecked past midfielders and between two defenders to power a header past Cech.
Both sides made a raft of substitutions with 17 minutes remaining, with Mourinho stating beforehand those coming on for the final few minutes would likely start against Roma in DC on Saturday.
Substitute Angel Di Maria twice went close to adding to the Madrid lead with volleys, and then Alvaro Marata had a goal disallowed for offside in injury time, and so the run in this tournament ends with disappointment, but it has provided three entertaining games for Chelsea’s stateside support and valuable match action for the players. Roma await on Saturday in our final game before returning home.
Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry (c) (Azpilicueta 73), Cole; Ramires (Essien 73), Van Ginkel (Schurrle 73), Lampard (De Bruyne h-t); Oscar (Moses h-t), Lukaku (Torres h-t), Hazard.
Goals Ramires 16
Booked Lampard 36, Cahill 58
Real Madrid (4-2-3-1):Casillas (c); Arbeloa, Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo (Nacho 73); Modric (Casemiro 73), Khedira, Isco (Morata 84), Ozil, Ronaldo; Benzema (Di Maria 69).
Goals Marcelo 13, Ronaldo 31, 56
Booked Arbeloa 42
Referee Edvin Jurisevic