Chelsea, PSG draw at Yankee Stadium
The pitch was a distinctive nod to the past, the play was a possible portend of the future.
Professional soccer came back to the Bronx Sunday night, as the new Yankee Stadium tried to recapture the essence of the old -- morphing its infield dirt to accommodate a very different sort of pitch, much like the days when its predecessor housed the Cosmos in the '70s.
Despite the early lackluster play in the friendly between English powerhouse Chelsea and the emerging French contenders Paris Saint-Germain, Les Parisiens proved that the newly moneyed kids on the block are ready to make more of an impact on the international scene.
Playing without just-acquired stars Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva, PSG pulled out a 1-1 draw with Chelsea, this year's Champions League winner, in front of 38,202, a crowd so overwhelmingly blue and white that it might as well have been the house that John Terry built.
"It was a good test for us," PSG manager Carlo Ancelotti said. "It was one of our first experiences against one of the top teams in Europe and we have to be happy."
The game's opening tally came in the 30th minute, when Javier Pastore took on three defenders and delivered a lateral strike that ricocheted off the post and careened neatly to Nene, who finished with an easy, straightaway score that could only be nicked by Chelsea defender David Luiz on the way in.
After a flurry of halftime substitutions, Chelsea retaliated on an expertly crafted one-two in the 83rd minute, a give and take between Ramires and Lucas Paizon to split the defenders and produce the final score.
The final minutes were marked by a number of close attempts by both sides, including Pastore's shot on goal in the 88th minute, deflected by keeper Ross Turnbull, who dropped to the ground for the stop. Guillaume Haorau played the rebound, but his weak attempt landed harmlessly in the seated Turnbull's hands.
Perhaps more important than the result, PSG made a decent showing indicative of its recent nouveau-riche status. The side was purchased by Qatar Sports Investments last year, becoming one of the richest clubs in the world. After a disappointing 2011 campaign, the team spent around $137 million on new talent, primarily mining its players from Italy's Serie A.
"It's going to make the Champions League more difficult and interesting for everyone," Chelsea manager Roberto DiMatteo said.
Ibrahimovic is one of the best strikers in the world and Silva will give PSG strength and talent in the midfeild. Chelsea has long been one of the most expensive teams in the world, bankrolled by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, a fact that didn't escape Ancelotti, who coached Chelsea from 2009-11.
"Chelsea is one of the best teams in Europe and Paris Saint-Germain wants to be one of the best teams in Europe," he said. "To reach the high level of football in Europe, you have to spend money and make investments and Chelsea made these investments 10 years ago."