Tooth­less Chelsea de­feated by Fiorentina 1-0 in home match

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY TOM WIL­LIAMS

The paucity of Chelsea’s strik­ing op­tions was once again laid bare on Wed­nes­day as they fin­ished their pre-sea­son prepa­ra­tions with a lack­lus­ter 1-0 loss at home to Fiorentina.

Vis­it­ing cap­tain Gon­zalo Ro­driguez bun­dled in the only goal in the 34th minute at Stam­ford Bridge and with Diego Costa once again ab­sent due to ham­string trou­ble, Jose Mour­inho’s side toiled in at­tack as they went a fifth con­sec­u­tive game with­out vic­tory.

Radamel Fal­cao and Loic Remy squan­dered another chance to prove them­selves as un­der­stud­ies for the ab­sent Costa, leav­ing Mour­inho with food for thought ahead of the start of his side’s Premier League ti­tle de­fense at home to Swansea City on Satur­day.

“We have the real football on Satur­day and to­day we couldn’t face this game in another way,” said Mour­inho.

“Com­pet­i­tive min­utes against a good team, who played for a re­sult and gave us a very good train­ing ses­sion.”

Asked

if Costa would be fit to face Swansea, Mour­inho replied: “I don’t know. I don’t risk to say yes, but I also don’t risk to say no.”

It was a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive pres­tige friendly win for Fiorentina, fourth in Serie A last sea­son and semi­fi­nal­ists in both the Coppa Italia and Europa League, fol­low­ing their 2-1 vic­tory over Euro­pean cham­pi­ons Barcelona on Sun­day.

“It was a good vic­tory, a vic­tory for the whole squad,” said coach Paulo Sousa. “I am happy for all the play­ers.”

Haz­ard, Fabre­gas En­ter Fray

Chelsea made 10 changes to the team beaten 1-0 by Ar­se­nal in the Com­mu­nity Shield at the week­end, with skip­per John Terry the only player to keep his place, while Fal­cao, As­mir Be­govic, Ber­trand Traore and Ola Aina made their home de­buts.

Sousa also rang the changes, mak­ing seven in to­tal. The visi­tors threat­ened first, Ma­tias Fer­nan­dez test­ing Be­govic low to his right.

Chelsea be­gan to take con­trol, Ruben Lof­tus-Cheek head­ing over and see­ing a shot blocked and Aina hav­ing an ef­fort de­flected over, but af­ter Ma­tias Ve­cino had thun­dered a shot against the bar for the visi­tors and Be­govic had par­ried a curl­ing at­tempt by Khouma Babacar, Fiorentina struck.

A cross from the right was chested down by Mar­cos Alonso and although his left-foot ef­fort was blocked at the near post by for­mer Stoke City goal­keeper Be­govic, the ball squirted out to Gon­zalo, who bun­dled home.

Be­gin­ning at half-time, Chelsea made nine changes in the sec­ond half, with Eden Haz­ard, Cesc Fabre­gas, Gary Cahill and Ne­manja Matic among the first-team stal­warts to en­ter the fray.

Fiorentina also sent on nine sub­sti­tutes, in­clud­ing Italy striker Giuseppe Rossi, who missed the en­tirety of the 2014-15 sea­son fol­low­ing the third se­ri­ous knee in­jury of his ca­reer.

Sub­sti­tute Josip Ili­cic and Ante Re­bic threat­ened for Fiorentina and although Chelsea fin­ished the game in the as­cen­dancy, they could not find an equal­izer.

Cahill saw a pair of head­ers saved by Luigi Sepe and Remy, who re­placed Fal­cao on the hour, shot waste­fully wide af­ter cut­ting in­side Alonso.

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