Chelsea stepped up their 2014-15 Premier League preparations with a convincing 3-1 victory over Vitesse Arnhem at the GelreDome in the Netherlands.
The partnership between the two clubs has been so fruitful in recent seasons, with the Dutch side serving as a place to which the Blues can loan their top prospects for playing time.
On Wednesday it was fruitful in a different way, offering up another opportunity for Jose Mourinho's men to continue jelling as a collective unit.
Mohamed Salah opened the scoring inside five minutes after a surging Diego Costa run played him in for an easy tap-in finish, then Cesc Fabregas pitched a beautiful free-kick up and over the wall to make it two before the half-hour mark.
Nemanja Matic swept home a killer third goal late in the second half after another excellent run from Costa. Uros Djurdjevic bagged a late consolation strike.
Chelsea will travel to Werder Bremen next as their intense European tour rolls on, and Mourinho will hope the game represents a slightly sterner, more challenging test than Vitesse did here.
Right from the off, the home side looked error-prone and ready to give up the game in a moment of madness. Salah's early goal—a product of a botched 50/50 challenge, a very poor defensive line stance and, arguably, an offside omission from the linesman—typified the exhibition, in truth.
Chelsea took advantage of their early pressure: Costa ran clear after Matic was able to smuggle a ball through a tangle of legs, and instead of shooting one vs. one, he squared it for Salah to slot home unopposed.
Minutes later Filipe Luis dug out a cross for Fernando Torres who just had the ball nipped away from his forehead, then Branislav Ivanovic headed high and wide from the resultant corner.
The Blues' defensive setup was on-point too, with ferocious pressing and strong zonal coverage preventing Vitesse from working the ball forward and into dangerous areas.
It quickly led to punts, ambitious through balls that weren't on and schoolboy errors in the Vitesse back line. Showing their frustration, the back line cynically hacked down Costa on a slaloming run to set up Cesc's impressive second from a set piece.
The first half ground to a halt as Chelsea stifled their opponents, but Vitesse did carve out one super chance which forced Petr Cech to come steaming off his line to clear.
Peter Bosz switched his goalkeeper at half-time, bringing on Piet Velthuizen for Eloy Room in a much-needed change. The substitute immediately tore off his line to clear a counter-attack led by Salah, but barring this sole foray forward, the Blues spent the first 15 minutes camped in their own half.
The home side began moving the ball more quickly and found their wingers more frequently; Bertrand Traore, on loan from Chelsea, and Zakaria Labyad both engineered shooting chances with the latter smashing the crossbar from 30 yards.
A flurry of substitutions ruined the flow of Vitesse's dominance slightly, and besides bringing on the superbly named Marvelous Nakamba, offered little in terms of offensive impact.
This flatness was compounded as Costa stole through on goal yet again, drawing Velthuizen to the left side before squaring for Matic—and Chelsea as a whole—to finish off the match with ease.
Vitesse found a consolation strike at the death courtesy of some woeful defending on Chelsea's part, with Djurdjevic heading home from close range.
Mourinho will be delighted with another win and a strong run-out for multiple players. Cesc bagged 75 minutes, Costa looked brilliant and Van Ginkel is stepping up his fitness, too.
The likes of Lewis Baker and Jeremie Boga were also able to drop in for the final 10 minutes and prove their worth, giving the Portuguese a serious selection headache ahead of the new season.
This squad is packed with elite talent, deep with young prospects and able to handle multiple competitions.
Mohamed Salah: B+
The Egyptian tapped an easy goal home to boost his confidence and looked a live wire throughout. He slammed another shot just wide at 2-0 and led a few promising counter-attacks.
Marco van Ginkel: B
Van Ginkel's homecoming was a strong one, returning to the GelreDome and throwing his weight around in midfield. He doesn't look at all hindered or hesitant by that nasty injury he sustained last year.
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