Resilient Chelsea slip to unlucky Super Cup shoot-out defeat

Posted by Mark Worrall

At the end of a high-tempo, glorified friendly that resulted in a penalty shoot-out victory for Bayern Munich over 10-man Chelsea, supporters of the German club may well feel that the scales of justice have been somewhat rebalanced after the events which took place in their stadium on the 19th May 2012 -- but in the final analysis, the reality is slightly different.

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Entering the game as outsiders, an enterprising Chelsea side -- unshackled of the defensive constraints placed on them by manager Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford in Monday's dour draw with Manchester United -- immediately took the game to Bayern, racing into an early 1-0 lead courtesy of a fabulous strike by the oft-maligned Fernando Torres. The goal jolted Pep Guardiola's charges into life, but despite enjoying the majority of possession, the Blues went into the lemon-break with their tails up and noses in front.

Mourinho was never going to use this fixture to experiment with team selection. A fit and ready again David Luiz was preferred in defence to John Terry, who probably needed a rest after his heroic exertions on Monday night against United. Andre Schurrle once more complemented Oscar and Eden Hazard in the attacking part of Chelsea's midfield, and this time, the Special One opted to start with Torres leading the line -- a decision that was to pay dividends whilst many supporters were still easing themselves into their seats. Once again, the omission of talented Blues playmaker Juan Mata will have set tongues wagging -- but they've been wagging for the past fortnight and will no doubt continue to wag until the transfer window slams shut early next week.

Chelsea's opening goal was pure theatre; Eden Hazard weaving his way through a mesmerized Bayern defence before releasing the ball to Schurrle who slotted the ball through to Torres, the Spaniard effortlessly rifling the ball past Manuel Neuer. When it came, the German side's equaliser was a disappointment. It was a chance well taken by France international Franck Ribery, but on reflection Blues goalie Petr Cech, who'd been immense throughout, will feel he should have done better than allowing himself to be beaten at his near post.

At 1-1, the game continued to be played at a frenetic tempo with no quarter being given by either side and, as such, there was an air of inevitably that one of the bristling challenges being meted out by both sides would invoke the wrath of referee Jonas Eriksson. Unfortunately for Chelsea, Ramires' crude challenge on Mario Gotze was deemed brutal enough by Eriksson to warrant an early bath, and the Brazilian, who'd already been booked, walked the walk of shame to the dressing room. Undeterred and galvanized by Ramires' sending off, the Blues, captained by a focused Frank Lampard, battled through to the final whistle of normal time, and as the players took a breather, supporters of both sides contemplated the unwelcome familiarity of a penalty shoot-out.

With first-half of extra time barely under way, it was soon to be the turn of Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer to shake his head in bemusement as he failed to deal with a speculative strike from Eden Hazard. The Belgium international had sliced through the German defence like a hot knife through butter leaving Neuer embarrassingly wrong-footed by a shot that rippled the Munich side's net to give the Blues a 2-1 advantage. As expected, the remainder of the game saw Bayern lay siege to the Chelsea goal -- to no avail -- with Neuer's opposite number repeatedly thwarting Bayern with a series of spectacular saves. When the fourth official lifted his board to indicate just one minute of added time, Blues supporters prepared to celebrate - but the evening's drama wasn't over as a last gasp equaliser notched by Javi Martinez sent the game to penalties. This time, though, the feeling amongst the Chelsea fraternity was that the opportunity for victory had passed, and so it transpired. There would be no déjà vu and no last-ditch glory for the London club. In an evenly matched shoot-out, Romelu Lukaku, on as a late substitute for Torres, was the unlucky man to fail from 12 yards and the spoils, such as they were, went to Bayern Munich.

Unlike last season's UEFA Super Cup capitulation against Atletico Madrid, Chelsea will feel no shame in this defeat. It was a resolute Blues performance that saw each of Jose Mourinho's charges put in a shift and specifically saw every outfield player contributing defensively -- though perhaps in the case of Ramires overzealously. The Special One will have been disappointed to lose out to his old adversary Pep Guardiola, but that's a personal matter between the Portuguese and the Spaniard. For their part, Blues supporters will take the positives from the contest and look forward to Chelsea's next competitive fixture against Everton in a fortnight. Two weeks is a long time in football and it will be interesting to see what the make-up of Jose Mourinho's squad will be for the match at Goodison Park (this was the key talking point amongst supporters as Super Cup formalities were concluded and the contest rapidly forgotten). Somehow it feels like we have seen the conclusion of Mourinho's preseason -- with Willian and Samuel Eto’o and maybe one or two others still to accommodate, let's see how the final pieces of his Chelsea FC jigsaw puzzle fall into place.

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