Each side staged impressive second-half comebacks, but Chelsea eventually prevailed over Barcelona with a 2-2 (4-2) penalty shootout victory in International Champions Cup action Tuesday night at FedEx Field in Washington, D.C.
The Blues would hit all four of their penalty attempts, with Loic Remy burying the winner after Barcelona’s Gerard Pique and Alen Halilovic missed their opportunities.
In front of a crowd of nearly 79,000, Barcelona sorely missed star strikers Lionel Messi and Neymar in the first half, but Luis Suarez and Sandro Ramirez rose to the occasion to guide the attack against a stacked and in form Chelsea squad.
And despite losing the lead after Ramirez’s stellar goal, Chelsea’s Gary Cahill netted his equalizer in the 85th minute with a header that also cost him a bloody nose at the hand of substitute keeper Jordi Masip.
Down 1-0 and manager Luis Enrique sticking with his first-half lineup, Suarez would equalize by capitalizing on a poor header clearance and flicking a shot over several Blues defenders and keeper Thibaut Courtois in the 52nd minute. Blues defender Kurt Zouma managed to reach the ball and attempt a clearance but goal-line technology ruled it had fully crossed the plane.
Ramirez, trying to earn more pitch time with La Liga term looming, buried a gorgeous deep shot just inside the penalty area to the top right corner past Courtois in the 66th minute to put Barcelona up for the moment.
The Blues would struggle to maintain any sort of possession advantage, finishing at 69-31, or even generate more shots, but they did stretch Barcelona’s defense by dropping bombs from midfield to the streaking Hazard and Diego Costa.
With Chelsea providing ceaseless pressure early, Zouma regained possession near midfield and shuttled a pass to midfielder Hazard who barreled through five Barcelona defenders to slip a right-footed strike inside the left post past keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen for a 1-0 lead in the 10th minute.
The Frenchman Zouma nearly got on the board three minutes into the match with his header inside the six-yard box narrowly missing the net after Cesc Fabregas’s pinpoint cross off a free kick.
In the 32nd minute, Costa nearly broke the match wide open for Chelsea on a breakaway but his kick went wide right and the Catalans seemingly slim chances for a comeback remained intact.
Three minutes later, Suarez provided Barcelona’s best scoring opportunity of the first half. The Uruguayan recovered a lob in the air inside Chelsea’s penalty area and cut back to the outside to catch the defense off guard, but Courtois recovered and made the save.
On Sunday, the Blues next face Premier League rival and reigning FA Cup champions Arsenal for the Community Shield, while Barcelona wraps up ICC play against Serie A’s Fiorentina.
Checkout the highlights below.