Luis Suarez and Sandro Ramirez scored second half goals for Barcelona, but Gary Cahill’s late header combined with a brilliant opening goal from Eden Hazard to force penalty kicks between Chelsea and Barca in International Champions Cup action on Tuesday at FedEx Field in Landover.
In the shootout, Thibaut Courtois stopped Gerard Pique and watched Alen Halilovic’s panenka go off the crossbar, while Victor Moses, Radamel Falcao, Ramires and Loic Remy scored to lift the Blues to a 4-2 win.
Close to 80,000 saw Barcelona move to 1-2 in three ICC matches. Barca finishes off its tourney vs. Fiorentina in Florence on Aug. 2.
For Chelsea, the Premier League champions also have a shootout win over Paris Saint-Germain and a loss to New York Red Bulls. They’ll look for a regulation win when they host Fiorentina on Aug. 5 at Stamford Bridge.
Kurt Zouma came very close to putting Chelsea ahead on an arrow of a free kick from Cesc Fabregas, but his bouncing header was pushed off the bar by a diving Marc-Andre ter Stegen. Moments later, on a free kick a bit closer and from the left, Cahill nodded a Fabregas offering over the bar.
Chelsea stayed on the front foot, and Oscar forced ter Stegen into another prone save before Hazard broke through in the 10th minute. The reigning PL player of the year busted through the middle of the 18 on a dribble and beat Rakitic before besting two more defenders and ter Stegen. 1-0 Chelsea.
Following a few more nervy moments, Barca started to build momentum. That’s when the Blues started to attack on the counter, and Diego Costa looked especially dangerous.
Costa was fouled again, leading to another dangerous free kick that Oscar put off the crossbar in the 26th minute. It was cleared out for a corner which came to nothing.
Courtois played the foil in the 31st minute, as Luis Suarez’s first-touch shot was parried by the Chelsea keeper, who then made a strong stop on Sandro moments later.
A clear breakaway for Costa saw the Spanish forward miss a shot wide of the far post from 10 yards away.
Suarez was a threat for Barcelona in the absence of Neymar, Messi and Javier Mascherano, and started a chance that could’ve ended with an Ivan Rakitic goal in the 39th minute.
Rakitic, however, mishit the ball well wide of the goal. Barcelona found its equalizer through Suarez in the 52nd minute. Cesar Azpilicueta butchered a headed clearance, putting it on a platter for Suarez. The Uruguayan froze Courtois and chipped him. Zouma tried to clear it off the line to no avail.
Sandro Ramirez boosted Barca to its first lead of the contest. After a host of subs left both teams adapting to the match, Sandro moved into the 18 from the right before launching a curling ball over John Terry and around a diving Courtois. 2-1, 66′.
But Cahill bloodied his nose and evened the score when he rose above the hands of Jordi Masip to head home. He subbed off for oft-loaned Nathaniel Chalobah right after scoring the equalizer.
Set to be the youngest player at the World Cup in Brazil this summer, 17-year-old Alen Halilovic has hit it big on the club level as well.
The Catalans reportedly beat the likes of Arsenal, Tottenham, and Manchester United to his signature.
Already the owner of three caps for Croatia, Halilovic is likely to make the squad for this summer’s World Cup.
Tottenham were nearly the recipients of his signature last summer, but he decided at the last moment to stay with his club Dinamo Zagreb for another year to increase his reputation, at the request of his father.
A natural right winger, Halilovic has already played in both the Champions League and Europa League this season with Zagreb, a tall feat for such a young player. He became the second-youngest player ever to appear in the Champions League when he came on as a substitute against Paris Saint-Germain in October of 2012.