Chelsea secured their second win of pre-season with a 4-3 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side made it two wins from two on their tour of the USA as they put four past Roberto De Zerbi’s Seagulls in the Premier League Summer Series.
Brighton struck first, against the run of play, through Danny Welbeck after he fired in from close range. Christopher Nkunku levelled six minutes later for Chelsea in the 19th minute with a clever flick past Jason Steele.
Mykhailo Mudryk put Chelsea in front with 25 minutes to go in stunning fashion with a superb strike from the edge of the box. Conor Gallagher extended the lead in the 72nd minute to give the Blues a two-goal cushion.
Nicolas Jackson got on the scoresheet for Chelsea, while Joao Pedro’s penalty reduced their lead with 11 minutes to play.
Deniz Undav scored in the 89th minute to bring Brighton to within one goal of levelling the game, but it proved too late for De Zerbi’s side to avoid defeat in Philadelphia.
Ian Maatsen had the first half chance of the game in the opening minutes. Following a ball down the channel and in behind from Levi Colwill to Ben Chilwell, the ball teed up on the edge of the box, but Maatsen could only side-foot wide.
But it was Brighton who took the lead in Philadelphia after just 13 minutes. Billy Gilmour clipped a delightful ball to the back post, Kaoru Mitoma nodded it across goal and Danny Welbeck was there to fire it into the roof of the net.
Welbeck almost got his and Brighton’s second three minutes later but he could only strike Adam Lallana’s deflected cross straight at Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Christopher Nkunku got his second in as many games to put Chelsea level in the 19th minute. A one-two between Carney Chukwuemeka and Ian Maatsen ricocheted to the Frenchman and he guided it past Jason Steele from close range.
The pre-season affair could have easily been mistaken for a Premier League game. It was high-tempo and Chelsea’s improvement in fitness levels under Pochettino allowed them to consistently maintain those levels throughout.
Eight minutes before half time and Raheem Sterling was almost punished for getting dispossessed by Solly March, but the Brighton star’s effort was well kept out by Kepa, before he was cautioned for a foul on Chilwell.
Chelsea are inches away from taking the lead in the 41st minute after Sterling whipped a ball into the box, however it was slightly too far ahead of Maatsen.
Kepa was the busier of the two goalkeepers. He was called into action once again to firstly keep out Welbeck’s powerful shot, before comfortably collecting Mitoma’s strike.
Pochettino made four changes at the half-time interval. Marc Cucurella, Trevoh Chalobah, Cesare Casadei and Mykhailo Mudryk replaced Chilwell, Thiago Silva, Chukwuemeka and Maatsen.
Gallagher ensured Welbeck didn’t get his second and restore Brighton’s lead after throwing himself of the forward’s shot inside the box six minutes into the second half.
Sterling found himself running down on Brighton’s goal, but he was unable to be ruthless as he entered the final third and the Seagulls cleared.
Brighton were reduced to ten men on the hour mark after defender Jan Paul van Hecke was shown a second yellow card for wiping out Casadei.
Pochettino made three further changes shortly after with Enzo Fernandez, Angelo Gabriel and Nicolas Jackson all introduced, with Andrey Santos, Sterling and goalscorer Nkunku replaced.
Jackson got straight into the action and an excellent double one-two with Mudryk saw the Ukrainian fire a stunning strike past Steele to cap off a beautifully well-worked build-up to put the Blues in front.
Jackson bagged his second assist of the game and fourth of the pre-season tour with 18 minutes to play. He toe-poked it to Gallagher, who thumped it into the back of the net to double Chelsea’s advantage.
The Senegal international turned from provider to scorer. Cucurella found him with a ball in behind and Jackson lifted it into the back of the net to give Chelsea a fourth goal.
It was goals galore in the game. Colwill gave Brighton a penalty and Joao Pedro reduced the deficit back to two. The Chelsea defender was then replaced by Lewis Hall as Pochettino freshened the back-line up to add the youngster to the backline of Bashir Humphreys, who replaced Malo Gusto, Chalobah and Cucurella.
Deniz Undav brought Brighton to within one goal a minute from time as he slotted past Kepa after Joao Pedro cut inside and saw off two Chelsea defenders.
Chelsea held on and claimed their second win of their tour of the USA. More signs of the Blues improving under Pochettino, who has already made his mark both physically and tactically.
Jackson was the standout after he came on just after the hour mark and was given the Man of the Match award. Next up for Chelsea is Newcastle United.