Sun, Jul 27, 2003 - Page 23 News List

Chelsea defeats Malaysia

AP , KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA

Chelsea defeated Malaysia's national team 4-1 Friday in the FA Premier League Asia Cup, though the lowly home side were able to test the visitors' defenses.

Chelsea will now meet Newcastle in the final of the four-team tournament in Kuala Lumpur, the first of its kind allowed by the English Football Association. Malaysia -- the obvious underdog in the tournament against three English Premier League clubs -- salvaged some pride by matching Chelsea's opening goal and forcing the visitors to bring on some of their big guns.

"The players don't have very good fitness at the moment," Chelsea coach Claudio Raneiri said of his side's off-season performance.

"We need to work on that a little more and I am sure they will be ready for when the [English] season begins," he said.

"Overall, I am still very pleased with the way they played today."

On a sweltering night at the Bukit Jalil Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Chelsea's first goal was netted by midfielder Frank Lampard in the 35th minute.

But four minutes later, Malaysia -- coached by former Chelsea fullback Alan Harris -- equalized through a header by Hairuddin Omar from the last of four corner kicks for the home side in the first half.

Even Raneiri was impressed.

"It was a fantastic header, it was a good goal," he said.

An hour into the game and with the score tied at 1-1, Raneiri sent in stars Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Eidur Gudjohnson and new signing Damian Duff.

It didn't take long for Hasselbaink and Gudjohnson to show their firepower. Just seven minutes after coming onto the field, the Dutch striker sent Chelsea ahead before Gudjohnson added a third in the 82nd minute.

Glen Johnson sealed it for Chelsea with a crisp header off a corner kick from Hasselbaink.

Chelsea played at an easy pace and were content to let the Malaysians come at them.

The Malaysians were able to capitalize on some gaps in the Chelsea defense to make several attacking drives.

In the 19th minute, Chelsea goalkeeper Marco Ambrosio was tested by striker Hairuddin Omar, while a few minutes later Indra Putra Mahyuddin slipped right through the Chelsea defense but failed to make anything of it.

Chelsea player Robert Huth left the field about 20 minutes into the game after he sustained a cut in a clash of heads with Hairuddin.

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