HONG KONG (AFP) – Chelsea used their greater physical presence to push past Hong Kong champions Kitchee on Wednesday and move into the final of the Barclays Asia Trophy.
They cruised to a comfortable 4-0 win thanks to a penalty and an own goal, with Didier Drogba and Daniel Sturridge also on the scoresheet.
The victory puts Chelsea through to the final of the Barclays Asia Trophy on Saturday, where they will face Aston Villa, who saw off Blackburn Rovers 1-0 earlier on Wednesday evening.
“It’s always hard work and sweat,” new Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas said.
“The players enjoyed their game, and kept the intensity very, very high from the beginning, which is a good sign for us.”
The third leg of Chelsea’s Asian tour proved a decent workout for the London club after a spluttering performance in Kuala Lumpur and a more convincing 4-0 win in Bangkok.
Midfielder Yossi Benayoun created the first goal of the game in the 36th minute, winning a penalty when he was tripped on the edge of the box after a clever change of direction.
His skill brought cheers from the Hong Kong crowd, days after he was booed in Malaysia as the first Israeli professional to play a match in the Muslim-majority nation.
Hong Kong proved a welcoming ground for the visitors, with thousands of the near-capacity 34,000 crowd dressed in royal blue and many waving Chelsea flags.
England midfielder Frank Lampard took a risk with the spotkick, driving it low and down the middle, but Kitchee keeper Wang Zhenpeng was already committed left and missed what should have been an easy save.
With limited substitutions allowed, Villas-Boas fielded almost a full first-team squad.
Using a 4-2-3-1 formation that he also tested in Thailand, several players were out of their normal position, with Lampard in a deeper role than normal and Benayoun more advanced.
“It’s nothing new with the experience Frank has to play in that role,” Villas-Boas said.
“We are just happy to see that the players are able to perform with various formations.”
Chelsea’s Serbian right back Slobadan Ragkovic, who made his debut in Malaysia, was given a run-out and made a couple of timely interventions to snuff out Kitchee attacks. He made way for 16-year-old central defender Nathaniel Chalobah, who played the final 14 minutes.
Salomon Kalou offered the first serious danger of the match, hitting the woodwork in the 15th minute when he headed a Drogba cross into the ground only to see it bounce up and off the crossbar.
Benayoun went from the sublime to the ridiculous with the rebound, attempting a bicycle kick that hit him in the face.
The match was put to bed in the second half when Kitchee captain Ubay Luzardo Santana turned a cross into his own net under pressure from Drogba, who added the third 10 minutes later.
Villas-Boas substituted Drogba immediately, replacing him with Fernando Torres, but there was no second goal in Chelsea blue for the record signing.
Instead, Sturridge rounded off the scoring half-way through the second half. He left Kitchee substitute Lo Kwan-yi for dead with a turn inside the box and rifled the ball into the roof of the net.