CHELSEA brought down the curtain on their fifth English championship-winning season with a 1-0 friendly victory over Sydney FC in front of 83 598 fans at the Olympic Stadium yesterday.
France striker Loic Remy scored the winner with a thunderbolt of a strike after 30 minutes and a typically solid defensive performance from Jose Mourinho’s side sealed a triumphant end to their long campaign.
Sydney, runners up in the A-League final last month, ensured it was not entirely an exhibition match but Petr Cech, in Chelsea’s goal for perhaps the last time, and his back four were in defiant mood.
Mourinho promised to put out a strong side and he was true to his word with the attacking trio of Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and Remy causing problems for the home defence from the start with their skill and pace.
Remy spurned the first couple of chances his team-mates carved out for him but made no mistake on the half-hour, cutting inside from the right wing on to his left foot and lashing the ball into the top corner of the net.
Sydney almost struck back immediately but Cech saved from Christopher Naumoff and Chelsea centre half Branislav Ivanovic cleared Alex Brosque’s follow-up off the line.
The Londoners went straight back up the other end and Costa’s left-foot shot across goal was pushed just wide of the post by goalkeeper Vedran Janjetovic.
The Spanish striker was substituted five minutes before half time after indicating to the bench that he had a problem with his calf while Hazard played on until the 89th minute.
It was the Belgian’s pass that set up Remy for what should have had been his second goal in the 68th minute, only for Alex Gersbach to shoulder the shot off the line.
Sydney thought they had equalised a minute from time when defender Seb Ryall bundled the ball over the line from close range but the referee ruled he had handled.