Chelsea have recorded the biggest win of their pre-season courtesy of a 2-1 triumph over Barcelona in Tuesday’s friendly in Japan.
The Blues fell to defeat against Kawasaki Frontale on Friday, but goals from Tammy Abraham and Ross Barkley earned the Premier League side a deserved win over the La Liga champions.
Barcelona’s consolation came from a terrific 25-yard strike from Ivan Rakitic in added-on time, although it will not stop Frank Lampard from taking the positives after an improved showing in Saitama.
Despite the game being their first of pre-season, Barcelona began on top with Oriol Busquets sending a free header off target within 90 seconds of kickoff, although Chelsea also threatened with Cesar Azpilicueta heading wide at the back post.
Antoine Griezmann – on his first appearance for Barcelona since signing from Atletico Madrid – had plenty of touches during the opening quarter, and the Frenchman needed to shake off a knock to his knee after a 50-50 challenge with Jorginho on the halfway line.
Chelsea should have gone ahead in the 23rd minute through Abraham, who seemed perfectly placed to convert the rebound after a Christian Pulisic shot had been saved, but the forward somehow fired over the crossbar from six yards out.
However, soon after Mason Mount had sent an effort over the crossbar, Chelsea deservedly went in front thanks to Abraham, who superbly took the ball around Marc Andre ter Stegen before converting into an empty net.
Pulisic squandered another opportunity, this time firing into the side-netting from an acute angle, but Barcelona could have been level before the break, only for Ousmane Dembele to fire too close to Kepa Arrizabalaga from the edge of the penalty area.
Lampard refrained from making mass alterations at half time with just two changes being made, although 11 fresh faces for Barcelona meant that the Blues were outworked during the opening stages after the restart.
Malcom dragged a left-footed effort wide wide from around 25 yards, while youngster Carles Perez ended a mazy run infield by shooting straight at Arrizabalaga.
The Chelsea goalkeeper also had to be alert to keep out similar 20-yard strikes from Carles Alena and Rafinha, and Lampard wasted little time in making further alterations to his tiring team.
The Blues took a while before moving through the gears going forward, but Neto had to be alert to keep out a deflected effort from Kenedy and a close-range shot from Michy Batshuayi.
However, a second and match-clinching goal arrived with nine minutes remaining as Barkley drilled a left-footed strike into the bottom corner of the goalkeeper’s net from 20 yards out.
Lampard would have been eager to see his backline keep a clean sheet having conceded late in two of their previous friendlies, although there was little that Arrizabalaga could do to keep out Rakitic’s stunning 25-yard effort which found the top corner in the first minute of added-on time.