Christian Pulisic netted his first Chelsea goals as the Blues emerged victorious in an eight-goal thriller with a 5-3 win over Austrian side RB Salzburg.
The Blues put on an entertaining show for the supporters in the Red Bull Arena as Frank Lampard looked to solidify his potential Premier League starting line-up as Manchester United fast approaches.
Ross Barkley continued his good form as he converted from the penalty spot and provided two assists in the match.
Christian Pulisic bagged a brace, with Pedro and Michy Batshuayi increasing the scoreline further into the second half. Takumi Minamino scored two to help reduce the deficit for Salzburg after a Jérôme Onguene headed goal.
Story of the Match
The first half was full of goals for the Blues, but Salzburg started the better of the two sides, forcing Chelsea mistakes with a rapid high press of their own.
Messy defending saw Hee-Chan Hwang sprint through on goal, only to be denied by Emerson moments later.
As the half progressed, Chelsea set themselves into the game and gained control. Tammy Abraham could have generated himself a glorious opportunity but opted to attempt a clever flick back through to Pulisic, resulting in the ball spiralling off the field.
Not long after, the Blues opened the scoring. Pedro picked up the ball deep in midfield and tracked Pulisic’s run with a perfectly placed cross-field ball. The American used his quick feet to trick his markers and slot calmly into the bottom left corner from just outside the area.
The second came only a few minutes after the first, with Pulisic, involved again. Mateo Kovacic dribbled his way out of trouble in midfield before playing in the young winger down the left-hand side.
The number 24 was brought down in the box and Barkley powered the resulting penalty low and to the keeper’s right.
Chelsea’s very own ‘Captain America’ secured his brace not long after. The young winger made a similar run that got him his first club goal after a superb long ball from Barkley and deftly lifted the ball over the on-rushing Salzburg shot-stopper.
Salzburg entered the second half with a completely different starting XI and with fresh legs came more efforts for the home side. It was not long before Chelsea conceded, and from yet another Corner this pre-season. Onguene towered above Luiz in the box and powered an effort past Kepa.
The Blues fought back quickly through a superbly improvised finish from Pedro to make it 4-1. Barkley was involved yet again as the rejuvenated midfielder whipped in a ball from the left side just as the Spanish winger broke through the defence.
The tenacious attacker jumped past the ball, flicked his leg up behind him and lofted it over the keeper with ease.
Three goals were scored in the closing minutes of the game, with Minamino netting a brace from a Davide Zappacosta instigated penalty and more sloppy Chelsea defending. Batshuayi increased his side’s lead after collecting his initial shot at the Salzburg shot-stopper and blasting into the roof of the net.
Takeaways from the match
Chelsea’s evolution through pre-season is showing real progression, especially when taking into account the red-hot form of a previously mediocre Ross Barkley.
The Blues showed their ability to control a game in and out of possession in large chunks of the match, which should bring confidence.
Fans will also be pleased to see new addition, Christian Pulisic, grab both his first and second goal for the club. However, with these positives, there are inevitably some negatives.
There are various times where the defensive fragilities of last season started to display their telltale signs in the form of miscommunication during open play and poor organisation when defending set-pieces. This has resulted in The Blues only managing one clean sheet all in six games now.
With N’Golo Kante due to return as the season draws in, Chelsea will welcome the defensive prowess of one of their best players back in their ranks, not to mention the energy he can bring into this already visibly energetic side.
Stand Out Players
After a good overall performance from the squad, two players stood out in the Chelsea squad as being the best. Both Pulisic and Barkley were phenomenal in their efforts and fans should be excited by their form as the start of the season gets closer.
The Player of the Match award would have to go to Barkley for his all-round performance. The midfielder looks to be one of Lampard’s standout performers this pre-season and this was his best outing yet.
The England international was tenacious with his pressing and contributions to the team, notching two assists and a goal in the process.