By Kenneth Tan
Italian giants Inter Milan held off a late Chelsea fightback to win 2-1 and be crowned champions of the 2017 International Champions Cup Singapore on Saturday (29 July).
Defeating German champions Bayern Munich 2-0 two days ago, Luciano Spalletti’s side collected the most points amongst the three teams involved in the inaugural Singapore leg.
Goals from Stevan Jovetic and rumoured Manchester United target Ivan Perisic on either side of the break put the Nerazzurri in the driving seat, before a late Geoffrey Kondogbia own goal set up a tense finale in front of 32,547 fans at the National Stadium on Saturday (29 July).
Chelsea started with record signing Alvaro Morata and had a series of corners in the first half, but found it tough to breach an Inter defence led by Brazilian international Miranda.
Inter would duly take the lead on the stroke of half time through controversial circumstances.
It looked like Cesar Azpilicueta had won the ball off Jovetic in a 50-50 challenge, but Singapore referee Sukhbir Singh saw differently and pointed to the spot.
Jovetic’s initial penalty attempt was parried by Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, but the Montenegrin reacted the quickest to tap home the rebound.
Chelsea then spurned an excellent opportunity to draw level in the 49th minute, with Belgian forward Michy Batshuayi somehow firing off-target from six yards out after Cesc Fabregas had won the ball off an Inter player.
They were made to pay for that miss just four minutes later. Striding onto a Jovetic slide-rule pass, Perisic advanced into the box to lash a sweet left-footed grounder across Courtois into the bottom right corner.
Chelsea then brought on ex-AS Roma defender Antonio Rudiger for his debut to replace Marcos Alonso, while Morata was hauled off for Jeremie Boga.
The English champions did get one back in the 74th minute, with Inter substitute Kondogbia’s attempt to pass back to his goalkeeper Daniele Padelli going horribly wrong as the ball floated in from fully 40 yards out.
Antonio Conte’s men thought they found the equaliser four minutes before the end, but Batshuayi’s effort was ruled out by the offside flag.
Inter would eventually hold on to claim a narrow victory and lift the ICC Singapore trophy.