Jose Mourinho passed his first major test as Chelsea’s new manager on Thursday night by beating Inter-Milan 2-0 in a quarterfinal match at the Guinness International Champions Cup played at the Lucas Oil stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.
Chelsea dominated nearly from start to finish. Two minutes after Inter’s Fredy Guarin almost volleyed in a shot past Chelsea keeper Petr Cech.
The first goals were scored in the 12th minute of the first half by Oscar following a perfect delivery from Nigeria’s Victor Moses. The second by Eden Hazard from the penalty spot after Moses was brought down in the 28th minute of the match.
Although an exhibition, the inaugural eight-team, 12-game International Champions Cup is being staged to promote some of Europe’s best while offering the teams a chance to prepare for their league seasons that begin at the end of the month.
Despite not starting four of its stars that played in the Confederations Cup, including Brazil’s David Luiz and Spain’s Juan Mata, Chelsea nonetheless at times looked to be in midseason form in the exhibition match before a crowd of 41,983 at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“Oscar has been with us for five days because of the Confederations Cup,” Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said. “We’ve worked a lot on our movement, and it will help us in difficult situations. It’s good to see in matches what I see in training. I want him to be a top player, not just a top talent.”
Chelsea advances to play AC Milan in the semi-finals Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. while Inter Milan will play Valencia, a 2-1 loser to AC Milan in its quarterfinal match last weekend, in the tournament’s consolation semi-final earlier Sunday at MetLife.
The other clubs in the tournament are Everton, Juventus, Real Madrid and the Los Angeles Galaxy – the only MLS team participating. Real Madrid beat the Galaxy 3-1 in their quarterfinal Thursday in Glendale, Ariz.
The championship final is Wednesday in Miami Gardens, Fla.
The match featured intrigue on the sidelines with Mourinho coaching against his former team for the first time since his two-year stint with Inter Milan from 2008-10.
Mourinho, who managed Chelsea from 2004-07, returned to the Blues on June 2 after managing Spain’s Real Madrid the past three seasons. Soccer supporters in London are fond of the Portuguese coach, who dubbed himself “Special One” on the first day of his first stint with the team. He then led Chelsea to two Premier League titles and one FA Cup.
They no doubt hope that Mourinho can bring the magic touch back to Chelsea this time around. Although it captured the Europa League title in May, one London daily newspaper labeled it “small beer” for a club that went into the 2012-13 season as defending Champions League winners. The Blues were eliminated in the tournament’s group stage this past season.
Mourinho also didn’t start Fernando Torres and Cesar Azpilicueta of Spain. All players subbed into play in the second half.
For new Inter coach Walter Mazzarri, who is trying to improve the Italian side after it finished ninth in the league last season, the game also gave him a chance to work recent acquisitions Mauro Icardi and Hugo Campagnaro into the team. Campagnaro was issued a red card in the 58th minute.
“The first half was very good for both sides,” Mourinho said. “The red card changed (the game) completely. Not good for them because they played with 10, and not good for us, because we played against 10.”