Chelsea beat Barcelona in Japan: Lampard seals Rakuten cup

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Goals from Tammy Abrahams and Ross Barkley gave Chelsea a 2-1 win over Barcelona in a rather lively and entertaining affair in Japan.

Having beaten Irish side St. Patrick’s last week, this was the first real test for new Chelsea boss Frank Lampard. His starting XI edged an almost-even competition in the first half, creating a number of chances before Tammy Abrahams opened the scoring in the 34th minute, capitalising on a major defensive blunder by Sergio Busquets.

Barca were not without their fair share of first half chances, with new signing Antoine Griezmann and his French compatriot Ousmane Dembélé linking up on a number of occasions. But they failed to find the net before coach Ernesto Valverde replaced his whole starting XI for the second half.

Barca’s substitute XI came out all guns blazing, threatening to score on several occasions in the first 15 minutes of the second half, with new signing Frenkie De Jong controlling and orchestrating things well in the midfield.

But they could not capitalize on their chances before Chelsea eventually gained control. And in the 81st minute, Ross Barkley – one of 10 second-half changes by Lampard – scored a wonderful effort from distance to give the Blues a 2-0 advantage. Barcelona clawed one back in injury time thanks to a fine long-range strike from Ivan Rakitic, which proved to be the last action of the game.

Lampard’s men now head back to England, where they will face Reading on Sunday. Barcelona, meanwhile, are to remain in Japan and will face Andres Iniesta’s Vissel Kobe on Saturday.