Digital Football Journalist
Barcelona 1-2 Chelsea: Tammy Abraham nets first pre-season goal against La Liga champions
Ross Barkley adds late second with excellent finish; Antoine Griezmann makes Barca debut
Last Updated: 23/07/19 7:32pm
Tammy Abraham scored his first goal of pre-season as Chelsea produced an impressive showing to beat Barcelona 2-1 in Japan.
The Blues should have already been ahead by the time Abraham opened the scoring 11 minutes before the break, but he had skied a sitter moments earlier.
However, he made no mistake second time around when Jorginho robbed Sergio Busquets and, from his pass, the forward rounded Marc-Andre ter Stegen and slotted in.
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An entirely rotated Barcelona side showed more after half time but rarely forced Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga into a meaningful save, and instead the Blues added a late second when Ross Barkley smacked the ball inside Neto's near post with nine minutes remaining.
Barcelona did have something to smile about in added time when substitute Ivan Rakitic received the ball 20 yards out, and after taking a single touch fired in a powerful effort into the top corner beyond a helpless Arrizabalaga.
How Chelsea saw off Barca
Chelsea narrowly avoided conceding a second-minute opener when Oriol Busquets nodded over unmarked from a corner but once they got their bearings, they controlled the first half against a strong Barca side - albeit playing their first game of pre-season - as the Spaniards struggled to deal with a high press and compact defence.
The Blues should have led when Emerson found Christian Pulisic inside the box, and his shot was turned away straight into Abraham's path. The striker had an open goal to aim at - but lifted his first-time effort over the bar.
Abraham made no mistake second time around when Chelsea's press worked to perfection, as Jorginho caught Sergio Busquets in possession and played Abraham through, and he calmly rounded Ter Stegen and fired in the opener.
The first half provided little attacking opportunity for Barca after that early header, with debutant Antoine Griezmann frustrated by the Blues' stout defence, but straight from the restart they began to probe more intensely, and Malcom fired wide of the near post within two minutes, before Carles Perez and Carles Alena both wasted good positions.
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But late on Chelsea added a second of the game, when Barkley received the ball from Marcos Alonso and rattled the ball inside Neto's near post, with the goalkeeper unsighted by Jean-Clair Todibo.
There was finally something for Barcelona when Rakitic took aim when given too much space 20 yards out a minute into injury time, and he duly beat Arrizabalaga with a rising drive into the top corner.
Analysis: What did we learn from Chelsea?
It's only pre-season, but this was Frank Lampard's first big test as Chelsea boss and after a few below-par performances, a dismal defeat could have dampened a little bit of the optimism around the club.
But Chelsea instead embodied their new manager's tactical plan with a high-pressing game which Barcelona struggled to deal with, and led to their opening goal.
By involving full-backs Emerson and Cesar Azpilicueta they overloaded Barcelona in attack and when the La Liga side did have the ball, Chelsea's transition into a compact defensive unit was impressive and stifled their opponents.
Christian Pulisic showed flashes of class on his first start and so too did Abraham, although his all-round game still looks raw and he will want to forget an embarrassing miss just before his goal.
Lampard will be pleased as punch with how his side performed against top-class opposition, though, and while the real tests are still far off, there was plenty to be encouraged about in Japan.
He said of Abraham after the game: "Tammy is a goalscorer and he's hungry for goals. Now it's his time to prove it for Chelsea. To get his goal will put him in good stead. There's competition."
How was Griezmann's debut?
The first 45 minutes we saw of Antonio Griezmann in a Barcelona shirt passed relatively quietly. He was involved in some of their intricate link-up play in attack, but against a Chelsea side including Andreas Christensen in defence he found life tough.
Barca as a whole weren't at their slick best and drawing any major conclusion from their first game of pre-season is tough, but the early evidence is, as expected, the Frenchman will fit in with their fast-paced technical style just fine.
What next for Chelsea?
Chelsea are back in action against Reading on Sunday at 3pm, before they travel to Austria to visit Red Bull Salzburg next Wednesday. Their final game before their season opener with Manchester United is away to Borussia Monchengladbach on August 3.
Sky Sports News reporter Geraint Hughes is with Chelsea in Japan, here's his take on the match....
Well, that was a lot better as far as Chelsea are concerned. It was clear tonight they were much, much sharper than they were last Friday when they lost 1-0 to J-League champions Kawasaki Frontale.
The heat and humidity affected them then because they were jetlagged and many players had been seriously struggling with sleep, Frank Lampard as well. It is not being unkind to Kawasaki but realistically Chelsea, or any other Premier League club, should not lose to a J-League team given correct preparation.
Maybe Barcelona were feeling a little like Chelsea did, they only arrived in Japan at the weekend and although they began the second half well, causing Chelsea problems and forcing Kepa Arrizabalaga into a string of saves, not long after that they contributed little in terms of creativity and control until Ivan Rakitic's late strike.
Antoine Griezmann showed glimpses of class, but that was all. Some of Barca's emerging talent also showed glimpses, but Chelsea were too strong and for the last half-hour it was as controlled a performance as Lampard could have hoped for.
Mason Mount again showed real quality. One Japanese TV reporter asked me several times during the game "who is Mount, who is Mount?"
He had caught the eye of the locals who ravenously devour Premier League news and they have seen a talent on this short tour.
Even though it was only a pre-season friendly, it had periods of competitiveness. Chelsea fly back to the UK, all-in-all happy with the unseen work done on the training pitch, which continues as the opening fixture of the season against Manchester United looms.