Classy Emanuelson leads Milan past Chelsea
Frank Lampard is held up by match-winner Urby Emanuelson
MIAMI, Fla. – Zlatan who?
A little over a week after transferring Serie A top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic, AC Milan registered a 1-0 win over European champions AC Milan on a second-half goal by Urby Emanuelson in a 2012 Herbalife World Football Challenge match played on Saturday night at Sun Life Stadium.
The goal came on one of several clinical counters by the Italian side in the 68th minute. AC Milan’s two wingers, Emanuelson and Stephan El-Shaarawy, combined to get into the Chelsea box. Goalkeeper Peter Cech blocked El-Shaarawy’s initial effort and the rebound fell to Emanuelson who coolly slotted home.
It was the Dutchman’s second game-winning goal in successive friendlies after also netting the lone goal in a friendly win over Schalke 04 in Germany during midweek.
Chelsea employed a decidedly uptempo rhythm to start the match compared to their 3-2 loss to the MLS All-Stars in midweek, showing amuch more determined and imposing side to themselves.
The European champions’ early enthusiasm created two early chances. First, Branislav Ivanovic headed down a set piece to fellow defender John Terry who skied a shot over the bar from near the penalty spot in the 7th That was followed up by a solo effort three minutes later from left winger Eden Hazard, who made a weaving run down the left side andultimately saw his shot blocked in the box.
AC Milan, who had just arrived into Miami a day before and were physically dominated in opening stages of the match, instead sought out elaborate passing combinations, which were often broken up by some aggressive Chelseatackling.
However, the Blues couldn’t stop the Italian side’s intricate connections in the 28th minute when Bakaye Traore and Stephan El-Shaarawy carved up Chelsea on a play that ended with a shot off target by Traore.
The Traore chance gave way to a 10-minute period of AC Milan dominance. The rossoneri used their breakneck speed on the wings, which caused more than a few problems for the Chelsea back line on the counterattacks. But Urby Emanuelson (34th minute) and El-Shaarawy (36th minute) couldn’t hit the target.
Boosted by the entry of German winger Mark Marin, the second half saw another high-energy start from Chelsea but they could not take advantage of a series of corner kicks.
But Chelsea were always susceptible to the AC Milan breakaway and Emanuelson almost made them pay in the 52nd minute when he danced over the ball before firing a left-footed shot that was saved by Cech.
Emanuelson wouldn’t miss the mark in the 68th minute on a nifty counter, cleaning up the rebound from the El-Shaarawy shot. And with the rhythm of the game interrupted by a series of subs on both sides, there was no coming back for a Chelsea side with very few ideas despite the preseason debut of Spanish international Fernando Torres.
The match wraps up Chelsea’s four-match tour of the USA, which they concluded with a 1-2-1 record. They head back to England for a friendly against Brighton and then the traditional Charity Shield match-up against league champions Manchester City on Aug. 12.
Meanwhile, AC Milan are back in World Football Challenge action on Aug. 8 against Real Madrid at Yankee Stadium. Before that they face Honduran side Olimpia at Gillette Stadium on Aug. 4.