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.


Kaymer arrives in Oman to tackle ‘toughest opening hole on tour’

Updated 23 min 19 sec ago

Kaymer arrives in Oman to tackle ‘toughest opening hole on tour’

  • A top class field, featuring two-time Major winner Martin Kaymer, will battle it out for the $1.75m prize
  • Measuring 454 yards, the first hole averaged 4.3 strokes across all four rounds during the 2019 event

MUSCAT, Oman: Al Mouj Golf, regarded by many as having one of the toughest opening holes on the European Tour circuit, is putting the finishing touches to the course in preparation for the 2020 Oman Open, held from 27 February — 1 March 2020.
The Oman Open returns to Al Mouj Muscat for the third time and will see a strong field teeing it up in Oman’s lifestyle and leisure destination. A world class field will be battling it out for the USD$1.75 million prize, with two-time Major winner Martin Kaymer, two-time European Tour winner Eddie Pepperell, Ryder Cup winning captain Thomas Bjorn and rising stars Robert McIntire and Adri Arnaus among some of the star names set to tee it up in Oman. A tough start is guaranteed at Al Mouj Golf, with the daunting opening hole, Par 4, often considered one of the most demanding opening holes on the circuit. Measuring 454 yards, the first hole averaged 4.3 strokes across all four rounds during the 2019 event.
Set along a two kilometer stretch of the Indian Ocean and with the Hajjar mountains providing an impressive backdrop, the Greg Norman designed links style course is consistently rated as one of the best in the Middle East, with Norman himself rating it as one of his finest creations. Despite the stunning surroundings, Al Mouj Golf is certainly capable of baring its teeth. As Oman’s first links style course, it provides one of the most challenging tests for golfers in the region, and when the wind gets up can be regarded as the toughest course of the European Tour’s ‘Desert Swing’.
Winners of the 2019 IAGTO Sustainability Award for Community value, Al Mouj Golf prides itself on its biodiversity and sustainable practices and with wildflowers and natural dunes accenting the lush green grass, it certainly inspires a unique golfing experience in the Middle East. Greg Norman commented “The huge bonus for me was that I was able to create a vast natural habitat which quickly became a haven for birdlife and various flora and fauna.”
Nasser bin Masoud Al Sheibani, CEO of Al Mouj Muscat, said “We are delighted to be welcoming the European Tour back to Oman and Al Mouj Golf for the third Oman Open. The feedback from players has been overwhelmingly positive since the initial event in 2018, which is testament to the quality of the layout and the surrounding environment. Al Mouj Muscat is a fantastic leisure and lifestyle destination for tourists, and we look forward to showcasing this once again”.
European Tour players have enjoyed their previous visits to the Oman Open, with the course receiving glowing reviews, further strengthening its position as one of the best courses in the region. Eddie Pepperell said ‘‘Al Mouj Golf is a must play if you’re ever in Oman. I’d say it’s the best course I’ve played in the Middle East.”, while Chris Wood commented “It’s a bit of a mix between a links and a desert course. The design is really good and there are so many players saying the same things. It’s in perfect condition and the practice facilities are awesome too.”
Tom Phillips, Head of Middle East, European Tour said: “It’s wonderful to witness how much this tournament has grown over the years; starting out as a European Challenge Tour event in 2013 before being deservedly promoted to the Challenge Tour Grand Final in 2015 and then becoming a full European Tour event in 2018.
“We’re extremely proud to visit the stunning Al Mouj Golf for the third Oman Open and delighted that the success of the tournament has contributed to the foundation of the Oman Golf Association, which marks another milestone for the development of golf in the Sultanate.”
Al Mouj Muscat offers an abundance of activities to enjoy in addition to the golf, with scuba diving and snorkelling trips, dolphin watching trips, water sports and fishing trips all available, as well as a range of restaurants and shops you will find at The Walk.
For more information on Al Mouj Muscat, please visit: www.almouj.com