Gary Cahill’s bullet header was enough for Chelsea to beat Liverpool in Pasadena in the International Champions Cup.
In front of a mammoth crowd of over 53,000, the England defender rose highest to direct Cesc Fabregas’ corner beyond Loris Karius in the tenth minute.
Fabregas was later sent off for a mistimed tackle, but Chelsea’s defence stood form as Asmir Begovic recorded the second successive clean sheet of his pre-season.
Liverpool were reduced to just one shot on target all match, whilst the Blues – even when down to ten men – looked a constant menace on the counter-attack.
Antonio Conte’s line-up suggested a degree of experimentation as Bertrand Traore and Ruben Loftus-Cheek were paired up front in a 4-2-4 formation. The impressive Victor Moses was joined by Willian out wide.
And it was strong, direct play from Moses that won the corner from which Cahill netted. Fabregas’ delivery was on the money, and despite being surrounded by three markers, Cahill rose highest to put Chelsea a goal up.
Begovic had to dive full stretch to tip away a devilish Philippe Coutinho free-kick as Liverpool looked to respond – but that was the solitary effort on goal that Jurgen Klopp’s side produced.
Moses, who spent the 2013/14 season on loan at the Merseyside club, then saw a powerful strike from distance just avoid the target as the Blues finished the stronger of the two sides.
The second half had a distinct pre-season flavour to it, with Liverpool being rightly denied a goal by a tight offside call being the only real matter of significance, other than Fabregas’ dismissal.
It was an ugly challenge by the Spaniard, who was late in and caught Ragner Klavan on the ankle. There was no malice, but by the letter of the law, the former Barcelona man was rightly shown red.
Nemanja Matic steadied the ship in Cesc’s absence, with Nathaniel Chalobah entering the fray soon after the red card to see out a deserved 1-0 victory.
After the game, Conte, speaking to Chelsea TV, said: ‘the most important thing today was to see the right spirit in my team and the will to fight to win a friendly game. This is the right way.
‘I was pleased with my team because I saw the right spirit and a lot of positive things, but I know and my players know that we can improve a lot’.
He concluded: ‘When two great teams face each other in a game, nobody wants to lose and for this reason I saw a competitive game’.