NEW YORK – European champions Chelsea FC and Paris Saint-Germain both received goals from Brazilians as they played to a 1-1 tie on Sunday night in an Herbalife World Football Challenge match held at Yankee Stadium, the first ever soccer event at the new baseball stadium.
Nene scored a goal off a rebound in the box after 30 minutes to give a deserved lead to a PSG side that dominated the first half. Chelsea forward Lucas Piazon converted a cross by another Brazilian, Ramires, to equalize late in the second half.
The pro-Chelsea crowd on hand were hoping for a show from the UEFA Champions League holders, but instead got a quality first-half performance by PSG, who lined up with four pure attackers to start the match: Ezequiel Lavezzi, Nene, Kevin Gameiro and Javier Pastore.
It didn’t take long for the French side to fire the first salvo. In the third minute a long pass from the right flank found Lavezzi wide open in the box. Chelsea goalkeeper Peter Cech was forced to come off his line to thwart the Argentine’s effort.
That was a sign of things to come as PSG’s front three wreaked havoc with their movement and skill. Nene provided the bulk of the inspiration, combining with Lavezzi for a high shot in the 19th minute and then with his captain, right back Christophe Jallet, who misfired eight minutes later.
Nene was rewarded for his stellar performance with the goal at the half-hour mark, but it was his teammate Pastore who did all the work. The Argentine made a sublime slalom run down the left side of the box, dancing around three players, screwing defender Gary Cahill into the ground and then poking a shot off the left post. The ball caromed right to Nene, who directed the ball into the back of the net from close range.
Chelsea tried to work the wings but Gael Kakuta and Kevin De Bruyne were largely ineffective down the flanks and the crossing, including from right back Sam Hutchinson, was predictable.
The Blues’ most dangerous effort came on a Frank Lampard free kick from 35 yards out that was telegraphed to the PSG goalkeeper in the 41st minute.
PSG revolutionized their squad after the break with eight subs to start the second half and lost the momentum they built in the opening stanza. By the 63rd minute both teams were playing with brand new XIs.
However, the switches and a revived crowd helped Chelsea, who turned to a forward combination anchored by Piazon with newcomer Marko Marin playing behind him.
Piazon would equalize in the 82nd minute, collecting a low cross from his compatriot Ramires and coolly slotting the ball inside the far left post from inside the box.
In the final minutes it was end-to-end action as both teams tried to get the winner but were thwarted by the back-up goalkeepers.
Chelsea take a short break from the World Football Challenge and head to Philadelphia on Monday to prepare for the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game against the MLS All-Stars.
Meanwhile, PSG will continue their preparations in Princeton, N.J. as they await the arrival of superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic. They make the quick hop to Washington, D.C. on Friday for their second World Football Challenge match against D.C. United at RFK Stadium.
Scoring Summary: 30’ Nene (PSG), 82’ Piazon (CFC)
Disciplinary Summary: 8’ Lavezzi (PSG), 41’ Sakho (PSG), 48’ Obi Mikel (CFC), 60’ Verratti (PSG)
Chelsea (4-4-2, left to right): #1 Peter Cech (63’ #22 Ross Turnbull) -- #19 Paulo Ferreira (63’ #3 Ashley Cole), #4 David Luiz (46’ #2 Branislav Ivanovic), #24 Gary Cahill (63’ #26 John Terry), #27 Sam Hutchinson (63’ #45 Nathaniel Chalobah)-- #14 Kevin De Bruyne (46’ #7 Ramires), #12 John Obi Mikel (63’ #20 Josh McEachran), #8 Frank Lampard (46’ #5 Michael Essien), #31 Gael Kakuta (46’ #21 Marko Marin) -- #17 Eden Hazard (63’ #15 Florent Malouda), #18 Romelu Lukaku (63’ #46 Lucas Piazon)
Paris Saint-Germain (4-3-3, left to right): #1 Nicolas Douchez (63’ #16 Alphonse Areola) -- #22 Sylvain Armand (46’ #5 Siaka Tiene), #3 Mamadu Sakho (46’ #6 Zoumana Camara), #13 Alex (46’ #15 Diego Lugano), #26 Christophe Jallet (46’ #4 Milan Bisevac) -- #27 Javier Pastore, #12 Mathieu Bodmer (46’ #24 Marco Verratti), #20 Clement Chantome (63’ #31 Adrier Rabiot) -- #11 Ezequiel Lavezzi (46’ #8 Peguy Luyindula), #10 Nene (46’ #17 Maxwell), #19 Kevin Gameiro (46’ #9 Guillaume Hourau)
Referee: Edvin Jurisevic
Assistant Referees: Jason Cullum, Brian Dunn
Fourth Official: Jose Carlos Rivero