Herriman, Utah (Thursday, July 21, 2022) – Wolverhampton Wanderers FC defeated Chelsea FC 2-1 in an international friendly between matches of the MLS NEXT Pro Invitational.
At the start of the match, both teams fought to gain control, with the majority of the action in the midfield. Chelsea nearly took the lead in the 19th minute when Omari Hutchinson stole the ball in the Wolves defensive third and broke towards goal, but his shot hit the inside of the post and bounced out. The Blues nearly struck again when Hutchinson fired a shot from inside the box, but Wolves Goalkeeper Palmi Arinbjorson made the save to keep things level.
Though it appeared Chelsea would be the first to break the tie, Wolverhampton struck first in the 37th minute. Breaking away on the counter, forward Nathan Fraser was brought down in the box, earning his side a penalty kick. Midfielder Oliver Tipton stepped up and capitalized on the chance sending Chelsea’s Eddie Beach the other way as he put the ball into the back of the net and Wolverhampton into the lead.
In the 40th minute, Chelsea midfielder Dion Rankine sent a cross into the middle of the box, but forward Mason Burstow’s header floated over the crossbar and out of bounds. The Blues continued to push for an equalizer but couldn’t break through as Wolves found themselves in front at halftime 1-0.
Coming out of the break, Chelsea continued to control possession but Wolverhampton continued to threaten on the counter. The Wolves broke through again in the 59th minute when midfielder Harry Birtwistle crossed the ball into the middle where forward Lee Harkin brought it down and touched it past the keeper as it trickled into the goal.
Chelsea’s Leo Castledine broke free from the Wolves defense inside the 18-yard box and fired a shot from close range, but a last minute effort from Wolverhampton blocked the shot and sent it out of play. The Blues would not be kept out of the goal as they pulled themselves within one in the 80th minute. Edwin Andersson crossed the ball into the box where Jude Soonsup-Bell headed it on to Jayden Wareham whose sliding chance sneaked inside the far post.
With the score at 2-1 in favor of the Wolves, Chelsea fought to find the equalizer and had a great chance in the 85th minute turned away by second-half substitute Joe Young’s diving save. The Wolves had a chance to score a third when Luke Matheson dropped the ball back to Zhenyu He at the top of the six-yard box whose left-footed shot pinged off the crossbar before Chelsea cleared it.
Not wanting to go down without a fight, the Blues pushed numbers forward, looking for the equalizer and another shootout, but good defending from the Wolves kept the score at 2-1, handing Chelsea their first loss in their trip to Utah.
GOAL SCORING RUNDOWN:
WOL: Oliver Tipton (PK), 37th minute: Tipton stepped up to the spot and slotted the ball inside the left post.
WOL: Lee Harkin (Harry Birtwistle), 59th minute: After receiving a cross from Birtwistle, Harkin controlled it and then poked it goalward as he was brought down with the ball trickling across the goal line.
CHE: Jayden Wareham (Jude Soonsup-Bell), 80th minute: Rising in the air to meet a cross, Soonsup-Bell flicked the ball to Wareham who pushed the ball forward into the back of the net.