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2018 International Champions Cup
  • Pedro (8')
  • Roberto Gagliardini (49')
Chelsea win 5-4 on penalties
Chelsea win 5-4 on penalties

Chelsea edge Inter Milan after penalties in ICC opener

NICE, France -- Cesar Azpilicueta scored the winning spot kick as Chelsea defeated Inter Milan 5-4 on penalties after beginning their International Champions Cup campaign with a 1-1 draw at the Allianz Riviera.

On at half-time, Azpilicueta sent Samir Handanovic the wrong way to give Maurizio Sarri's men victory in a high-quality shootout that saw nine of 10 penalties scored, with Willy Caballero saving the other from Milan Skriniar.

Roberto Gagliardini cancelled out an early opener from Pedro Rodriguez as the two teams could not be separated over the course of a lively 90 minutes, with Sarri's side showcasing impressive flashes in attack and concerning vulnerabilities in defence.

In front of the watching Roman Abramovich and a sparse crowd, Sarri stuck with the same starting XI that defeated Perth Glory, though third-choice goalkeeper Robert Green was included among the substitutes for the first time since joining Chelsea on a free transfer.

Chelsea started brightly, passing the ball with speed and ambition. Handanovic had to be alert to block Ross Barkley's low shot inside the first two minutes after good work from Alvaro Morata, who moments later had a headed goal ruled out by a marginal offside call.

Morata provided an effective focal point for Chelsea's passing in the final third and it was his persistence that broke the deadlock in the eighth minute, forcing a parry from Handanovic that enabled Pedro to tap in his second goal of preseason on his 31st birthday.

Chelsea's confidence in possession grew but it occasionally got them into trouble at the back with Mauro Icardi lurking. Antonio Candreva also enjoyed himself in isolation against Marcos Alonso, pulling the ball back dangerously for an unmarked Matteo Politano to fire just wide.

Tiemoue Bakayoko and Willy Caballero were two of four Chelsea players introduced at half-time, and neither covered themselves in glory for Inter's equaliser. The Frenchman's loose pass allowed Icardi to drive forward and supply Gagliardini, whose tame shot deflected in off the goalkeeper.

The changes disrupted Chelsea's fluidity and five more followed just after the hour mark, leaving marquee summer signing Jorginho and Callum Hudson-Odoi the only starters on the pitch. A neat first touch from Tammy Abraham, on for Morata, set up a low shot that Handanovic parried away.

Handanovic intervened again as Chelsea pushed for a winner in the final minutes, tipping Jorginho's long-range curler wide of his far post after the Italy international had been smartly found by Hudson-Odoi.

In a frantic finale, Abraham narrowly failed to convert Emerson's low cross in the six-yard box and Caballero made an excellent reaction save at the other end to deny Inter substitute Lautaro Martinez, sending the match to penalties.

Chelsea are next in action against Arsenal at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Wednesday, and face Manchester City in the Community Shield at Wembley on Aug. 5 before wrapping up their ICC commitments against Lyon at Stamford Bridge two days later.