Chelsea lived up to their promise of putting on a show, beating a fast-finishing Sydney FC 1-0 in an entertaining clash in front of a record football crowd at ANZ Stadium.
It was Loic Remy’s first-half howitzer that separated the sides in the end as the Sky Blues discovered just why Jose Mourinho’s side is EPL champions after an eye-catching display.
Chelsea created - and squandered – a string of chances but it was certainly a treat for their legion of fans to see them in action just a week since lifting the EPL trophy.
But the visitors survived a scare in the 88th minute as Sebastian Ryall had the ball in the back of the net only for it to be ruled out for a handball in the build-up.
Playmaker Eden Hazard proved just why he won the EPL’s player of the Year award showing some sublime touches and moments of magic to thrill the massive crowd of 83,598.
The whopping figure beat the figure (83,127) that attended the Manchester United-All-Stars match in 2013 but fell just short of the reconfigured ground record of 83,833 for last year’s NRL grand final.
Mourinho stuck true to word and started his strongest possible line-up with Hazard, Remy, John Terry and Diego Costa all on the team-sheet.
And it was the latter that crafted the first chance on six minutes, embarking on a sensational dribble past three defenders which Vedran Janjetovic just kept out with his legs.
Rhyan Grant was having a torrid time trying to deal with the elusive Hazard and the Belgian crafted the next chance, getting to the byline and crossing for Remy whose effort skimmed the post.
But Remy’s next contribution on the half hour mark was more decisive, lighting up ANZ Stadium.
He cut in from the right flank and as he got to the top of the box curled a thunderous curling shot into the far top corner.
The world-class goal led to a flurry of chances at both ends in the space of a couple of minutes.
First the Sky Blues went close as first Chris Naumoff was denied by Petr Cech before Alex Brosque looked to have scored with the rebound but for an acrobatic goal-line clearance by Branislav Ivanovic.
Down the other end Jeremie Boga fired over from Hazard’s lay-off while Costa then had his shot tipped around the post by Janjetovic.
An ankle injury forced Costa off just before the break and the cracking tempo slowed in the second half.
Remy had Janjetovic scrambling with a low drive which went just inches wide of the post while Terry Antonis stung Cech’s palms with a pile-driver.
Only some terrific defending from Alex Gersbach denied Remy his second midway through the half as he headed his goal-bound effort off the line.
Substitute Andreas Christensen and Nemanja Matic also drew saves from Janjetovic late on before Ryall looked to have snatched an equalizer only to be cruelly denied by the referee’s whistle.
It meant the Sky Blues had to be content with a second 1-0 defeat against EPL opposition in the space of three days after going down to Tottenham on Saturday night.
Sydney FC 0
Chelsea 1 (Remy 30’)
Crowd: 83,598 @ ANZ Stadium
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