CHELSEA WIN COPA AMSTERDAM
To put the seal on a fantastic season, Chelsea’s academy setup has another trophy to celebrate, as an Under-19 team mixing the youth and reserves clinched the 2010 Gestion Copa Amsterdam on Monday afternoon, winning 7-6 on penalties after a goalless draw with Sevilla in the competition’s Final.
The competition, which has run since 2005, welcomed the Blues for the first time last spring but a sixth placed finish from the eight teams involved was hardly reason for celebration. This year, however, the tournament moved to Amsterdam’s famous Olympisch Stadium, home of the 1928 Olympic games and of international matches for Ajax until the mid 1990s, and in such a prestigious venue, Chelsea stepped up their game.
The draw grouped them with Guadalajara, Botafogo and AZ Alkmaar, the defending champions. South and Central American opposition had proved too much for the young Blues to handle in the Dallas Cup in March, but in friendlier conditions – although it was still rather hot – they got off to a good start on Saturday with a 2-0 win over the Mexican Chivas. A superb strike from Ben Gordon was added to in the second half by Daniel Philliskirk, with both goals laid on by the fit-again Adam Phillip. Uruguayan forward Jhon Pirez had a late goal disallowed, but it was just the start the team would have wanted heading into Sunday’s double-header of action.
Botafogo were first on the agenda and in a tight game, Chelsea turned to a trialist to get them over the line. Macedonian Aleksander Trajkovski beat Milton Pires for the winning goal in a match where Sam Walker was impressive, and Kaby cleared an effort off the line. Maximum points from their first two outings secured their place in the Semi Finals, but the clash with AZ would determine whether it would be the Londoners or the Alkmaar side who would top the group. As Chelsea took the chance to rotate the squad around, Niclas Heimann was beaten from 35 yards by Roland Alberg to leave them finishing second in the group, meaning they were to face Ajax in the first Semi Final on Monday.
Walker was back in goal for the big match and kept his third consecutive clean sheet in another tight game decided by a single goal. Billy Clifford’s effort, again created by Phillip, was enough to secure a place in the Final. Rohan Ince saw a late goal disallowed for offside whilst Walker was needed to keep out efforts from Lukoki and Dekker. In the second Semi Final, Sevilla prevailed over AZ after a thirteen-round penalty shootout, meaning a new champion was set to be crowned.
The Final was a tense and dramatic affair, shortened in length by ten minutes with Chelsea needing to catch a plane home (as Sevilla’s Semi Final had overrun). It finished 0-0 after chances for Phillip and Pirez were not taken, whilst Herbella nearly put one into his own net, seeing his blushes saved by the woodwork. Both sides were reduced to ten men in the closing stages as Giron and Billy Clifford had a spat, with the full-back receiving a straight red and the Spaniard his second yellow.
Headed to penalties, the first thirteen kicks were all scored (including a delightful chip from Milan Lalkovic) before Walker saved Herbella’s effort, leaving Chelsea as 7-6 victors and Copa Amsterdam Champions 2010.
More information will be added to this report as it arrives from Holland, but a huge congratulations to a group of players who have achieved wonderful success this season.