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Wednesday July 30, 2008

Chelsea end Asian Tour with goals from Anelka and Cole

Big welcome for Chelsea players!

SHAH ALAM: English Premier League giants Chelsea wrapped up their Asian Tour in style after carving out a 2-0 win over a Malaysia Selection in front of some 50,000 fans at the Shah Alam Stadium last night.

The stadium was a sea of blue as Chelsea fans came out in droves to catch a glimpse of their favourite team ahead of the new EPL season.

The Malaysian had little to offer but can still hold their heads high after conceding just two goals, compared the thrashing Chelsea’s previous two opponents – Guangzhou Pharmaceuticals (4-0) and Shengdu Blazers (7-0) – received last week.

In hot pursuit: Malaysia’s Safee Sali trying to break away from a pack of Chelsea players during the friendly match at the Shah Alam Stadium yesterday.

Last night, Nicolas Anelka put the Blues ahead in the 27th minute and Ashley Cole wrapped up the proceedings with the second in the 54th.

New Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari fielded a strong starting line-up, comprising three England internationals – skipper John Terry, Frank Lampard and Joe Cole.

Surprisingly, it was the Malaysians who had the first good look at goal in the third minute when Amirulhadi Zainal’s stiff grounder beat the diving Petr Cech but missed the target by inches.

After that, however, it was all one-way traffic as Chelsea kept the Malaysian defence – marshalled by Norhafiz Zamani Misbah and Mohd Aidil Zafuan – busy.

With the Malaysians in sixes and sevens, and Anelka proving too hot for rightback Mohd Fauzi Nan to contain, it wasn’t long before Chelsea opened accounts.

The breakthrough came in the 27th minute when Anelka stole into the box to score past the onrushing goalkeeper Mohd Helmi Eliza Elias.

Below: Shafizan Hashim tugging at Florent Malouda’s shorts in Chelsea’s 2-0 win. – GLENN GUAN / The Star

The Kedah custodian, however, deserves praise as he had earlier made three superb saves, including a cracking first-timer by Chelsea new boy Deco in the 14th minute.

Helmi had also stopped Anelka’s low grounder in the 16th minute and Michael Essien’s shot from inside the box in the 23rd minute.

Big Phil then made four changes at the start of the second-half, bringing in Alex for Ricardo Carvalho, Ashley Cole for Wayne Bridge, Florent Malouda for Cole and Paulo Ferreira for Shaun Wright Philips.

At the half-way mark of the second-half, Scolari fielded Andriy Shevchenko for Deco, Carlo Cudicini for Cech and Franco Di Santo for Anelka.

Cole had barely been on the pitch when he made his presence felt, connecting Lampard’s pass into goal in the 54th minute.

In the end, it turned out to be an entertaining fare for the fans and a good experience for the Malaysian boys ahead of their preparations for the Merdeka Tournament in October and the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Championships in December.

Malaysia: Mohd Helmi Eliza Elias, Norhafiz Zamani Misbah, Irwan Fadzli Idrus (Asraruddin Putra Omar), Mohd Aidil Zafuan Abdul Razak (S. Subramaniam), Mohd Fauzi Nan (Mohd Shafizan Hashim), Mohd Amirulhadi Zainal (Mohd Nizaruddin Yusop), Mohd Hardi Jaafar (Zairo Anuar Zailani), Indra Putra Mahayuddin, Mohd Shukor Adan, Mohd Safee Sali (Mohd Zaquan), Hairuddin Omar (Mohd Khyril Muhymeen).

Chelsea: Petr Cech (Carlo Cudicini), John Terry (Branislav Ivanovic), Ricardo Carvalho (Alex), Wayne Bridge (Ashley Cole), Deco (Andriy Shevchenko), Michael Essien, Joe Cole (Florent Malouda), Shaun Wright Philips (Paulo Ferreira), John Mikel Obi, Frank Lampard, Nicolas Anelka (Franco Di Santo).

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