Chelsea hammer out 2-1 victory over Barcelona

Chelsea's Tammy Abraham scores a goal against Barcelona's goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen during their friendly soccer match in Saitama, Japan. (AP)
Updated 23 July 2019

Chelsea hammer out 2-1 victory over Barcelona

  • Prized recruits Antoine Griezmann, Frenkie de Jong make debut for Barca

SAITAMA, JAPAN: Goals from Tammy Abraham and Ross Barkley saw Chelsea grab a 2-1 victory against Barcelona on Tuesday in an exhibition match in Japan.

World Cup-winning French striker Antoine Griezmann and former Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong made their unofficial debut for the Spanish giants, pleasing some 51,126 fans who cheered every move during the star-studded game.

Chelsea striker Abraham opened the scoring in the 34th minute by pouncing on a mistake by Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets who attempted to clear the ball.

But with Chelsea midfielder Jorginho applying pressure, the ball rolled toward Abraham who only had to step past rushing goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen and gently send it into the net.

Chelsea coach Frank Lampard was all praise for his young striker.

“Tammy, he is a goal scorer. He is hungry for goals,” he said.

Despite facing a transfer ban, Lampard said Chelsea’s two-game tour in Japan showed he had a “competitive” and “determined” team.

“What I have learned about players was that they are a good strong group, a determined group. I am very happy,” he said.

“There is more work to do but it’s been a good trip. It’s been positive in all senses,” he said.

Minutes after the first goal, Chelsea midfielder Christian Pulisic showed off his speed and footwork to infiltrate the Barca defense, but his left footer went just wide.

Barcelona went on the offensive in the second half, with substitute striker Carles Perez leading the way.

But superb saves by Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga repeatedly denied Barca any attempt to equalize.

In the 55th minute Perez zipped past three Chelsea defenders but his left toe kick finish was not good enough to get past Arrizabalaga.

A few minutes later, he dashed deep into the left side to feed a high-speed cross to striker Malcom, but Arrizabalaga again denied them.

Chelsea made it 2-0 with less than 10 minutes left as midfielder Barkley picked up a cross in front of the box and curled it into the net, with substitute keeper Neto getting a touch but unable to block it.

Just before injury time, Barcelona got a free kick just outside the box but midfielder Ivan Rakitic’s shot went above the bar.

Rakitic however quickly redeemed himself in injury time, picking up a cross and firing a lightning right footer that went deep into the net for a consolation goal for Barcelona.

Barca coach Ernesto Valverde, echoing Lampard, said the match was a good test that showed signs of excellence as well as areas to improve.

Valverde was tightlipped about whether they were moving to acquire Neymar from French side Paris Saint-Germain.

But he has high hopes for Griezmann, whose €120 million ($135 million) transfer was contested by Atletico.

Griezmann “needs to get used to the team and how we play.”

“But he proved himself as a dangerous player on the ball. He has a lot of ideas,” Valverde said through a translator.

“This is only his debut game. He will have to fit into Barca’s style. I am sure he will become better and better.”

Griezmann said he hoped to shine at his new club.

“Personally, I want to play in many games, score more goals than the last season, more assists than last season,” he said through a translator, adding that he had his eye on a “big title.” The Spanish giants will play a friendly on Saturday against Japan’s Vissel Kobe, who feature ex-Barca players Andres Iniesta, David Villa and Sergi Samper.


Saudi Cup ‘double or nothing’ with two horses in $20m race for leading agent Ted Voute

Updated 5 sec ago

Saudi Cup ‘double or nothing’ with two horses in $20m race for leading agent Ted Voute

LONDON: Securing a win in today’s $20 million Saudi Cup would be one of British bloodstock agent Ted Voute’s “greatest” achievements, the leading consignor said in the build-up to the world’s richest race.
Voute has been responsible for the purchase of six horses featuring in this weekend’s Saudi Cup meet, including two in the headline race.
Mjjack, a recent winner of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cup, as well as Great Scot, were bought from the UK for owner Prince Faisal bin Khaled bin Abdul Aziz.
“Great Scot gets in (to the Saudi Cup) by virtue of being the highest-rated horse in Saudi Arabia,” he said. “I bought him late last year from Tom Dascombe in England. He hasn’t started there yet, but he’s a lovely horse,” Voute told Arab News.
“The other horse, Mjjack, I bought a couple of years ago. He won the King’s Cup (on Feb. 8), which gave him a free place, so I’m particularly proud of those two runners.
“It would be right up there if I bought the first Saudi Cup winner, it would be one of the greatest things I had ever done,” he added.
Since 1986 Voute has produced horses for the world’s premier sales on behalf of the some of the best-known breeders. In the past three decades, his consistent results in the sales ring and on the track have confirmed him as one of Europe’s leading consignors.
Voute has also bought several horses for another Saudi owner, Prince A.A. Faisal, including Mishriff, which runs in the Saudi Derby, one of the races going off before the Saudi Cup.
“From the prince’s point of view, Mishriff is named after a good friend of his who died and it would mean an immense amount to him (if the horse won),” he said. “It would be a wonderful story if, in his first race back as a three-year-old, he wins the Saudi derby as a preparation race to a Classic run.”
With several clients in Saudi Arabia, Voute is well placed to comment on the achievement by Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al-Faisal, chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, in setting up a top-class racing meet in such a short time.
“It’s amazing, really, I don’t think there has been a day with that much prize money in history. It has definitely grabbed people’s attention,” he said. “I was in a taxi from the airport with the trainer of Maximum Security, and (he said) he got a passport for the first time to travel outside the US to be in Saudi Arabia, which I thought was fantastic.
“To think this was only an idea not even a year ago. I saw Prince Bandar at Royal Ascot, and I think that’s where (Saudi Arabia) made the decision — and it’s just unbelievable what they’ve done from June to now. A lot of wealthy owners will venture out to Saudi Arabia and see what a wonderful country it is.
“It will show people they can travel in winter and pick up these sorts of races and prize money; it will really put Saudi Arabia on the calendar as a stepping stone to one of the European Classics,” he said.