Chelsea open with 4-2 Sounders win
By Tim Booth ,AP
July 20, 2012, 12:25 am TWN
SEATTLE -- Young Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku scored twice and new signings Eden Hazard and Marko Marin also found the net as Chelsea opened its American tour with a 4-2 win over the Seattle Sounders on Wednesday.
Lukaku muscled his way to a goal in the third minute then scored his second goal in the final minute of the first half as Chelsea won on its first outing since lifting the European Champions League trophy in May.
With Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka having departed Chelsea in the past year, Lukaku boosted his chances of getting more playing time in the season ahead.
"I feel the pressure, but you play for Chelsea, there's pressure and we won, so that's the most important thing," Lukaku said. "The goals were good for me, but the most important thing is the team. I enjoyed it a lot."
Lukaku is behind Fernando Torres and Daniel Sturridge in Chelsea's pecking order of strikers, but his large frame makes him a potential target-man option in the absence of Drogba.
"I'm very keen to see him perform for us and then we'll see what happens," Chelsea coach Roberto Di Matteo said. "But it's good to see he's a danger, he scores goals and that's what a striker has to do."
Seattle's Fredy Montero scored a pair of goals in the first half, but the Sounders missed a number of good scoring chances early and had few opportunities in the second half in front of 53,000 fans.
Lukaku scored his first goal on a pass from Josh McEachran, one of the youngsters given a chance while some Blues regulars are either resting from the European Championships or going to the Olympics. Lukaku forced his way past defender Jeff Parke to score his first then added another in the 44th minute as Seattle's defense continued to leak.
Chelsea's two biggest off-season signings — thus far — also scored in the first half with Hazard, joining from Lille, scoring in the 11th minute after his shot deflected off a defender.
Marin, who played a part in setting up two other goals, got on the scorers' sheet himself in the 40th minute with another deflected shot.
Montero's first goal came off a poor turnover by McEachran in the 14th minute. Montero patiently waited then shot past Hilario. It was the first goal scored by Seattle in any of its previous exhibitions against European powers Chelsea, Barcelona and Manchester United.
Montero made it a pair in the 32nd minute when Mauro Rosales cross field pass fell to Montero's feet and his left-footed shot beat Hilario again.
"We did good. We scored two goals against a tough team to play," Montero said. "We wanted to win the game but at the end of the day we need to be focusing on MLS."
Chelsea brought on regulars Frank Lampard, Michael Essien, Ramires and Gary Cahill at halftime and controlled more of the play but was unable to tack on additional goals.
The Blues were without five of their biggest names for the first stop of a four-game American tour that will feature the first soccer game at the new Yankee Stadium against Paris Saint-Germain, a match with the MLS All-Stars in Philadelphia and a final exhibition versus AC Milan in Miami.
Spanish star Fernando Torres, who helped Spain win the European Championship earlier this month, and Portugal's Raul Meireles will join the tour later. As will French midfielder Flourent Malouda and the English defensive duo of John Terry, just cleared of racial abuse charges last week, and Ashley Cole. Terry is expected to join Chelsea in New York this weekend.