Chelsea are beaten on penalties by Charlotte after the MLS side made it 1-1 from the spot with the LAST KICK of the game… with Raheem Sterling making his debut and Christian Pulisic on target
- Christian Pulisic gave Chelsea the lead in North Carolina with first half strike
- Blues made 10 changes at the break including sending on Raheem Sterling
- Sterling made his first Blues appearance since £47.5million move from Man City
- Trevoh Chalobah handball allowed hosts to equalise in last minute with penalty
- Conor Gallagher’s scuffed penalty handed shootout victory to the MLS side
Raheem Sterling made his debut as the men from the King’s Road failed to win in the Queen City – with Chelsea falling to a shootout defeat against a spirited Charlotte FC on the second match of their three-game US tour.
The £47.5m arrival from Manchester City scored his spot-kick but a miss from Conor Gallagher, who passed his penalty down the middle only for a motionless Kami Joswiak to make the decisive save, saw the MLS side prevail.
Sterling played on the left of a front three after coming on at the break with the visitors already a goal up thanks to American Christian Pulisic’s home-turf strike. He was joined by Kai Havertz in the middle and second-half captain Mason Mount on the right but looked a little rusty in what was a keenly-contested affair against a fired-up, fit and physical home outfit halfway through its inaugural season, which equalised with a late penalty by Mexican Daniel Rios following a Trevoh Chalobah handball.
Raheem Sterling made his first appearance for Chelsea after his switch from Manchester City
Sterling coolly converted his spot-kick during the penalty shootout for Chelsea
Aside from a trademark change of pace that left four defenders trailing in his wake and a low shot from a tight angle well saved by the keeper with his feet, it was a relatively low key 45 minutes for Chelsea’s new number 17, who will at least have been happy to convert his penalty.
The match was delayed more than an hour thanks to thunderstorms in the Charlotte area. Thousands of fans were forced to seek shelter, while a universal alert system pinged the phones of all those within the press box.
When the storm cleared, Chelsea dominated their opponents in the early stages. Michy Batshuayi, again a surprise starter, wasted a decent chance when he failed to control Hakim Ziyech’s relatively simple through ball. The home outfit, with former Leicester stalwart Christian Fuchs in their ranks, grew in confidence, and striker Yordy Reina drew groans from around half of a 52,673 crowd when he curled an effort against the bar.
The England international was introduced as a second half substitution for his new club
CHELSEA FIRST HALF: Mendy; James, Thiago Silva, Emerson; Hudson-Odoi, Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso; Ziyech, Batshuayi, Pulisic
SECOND HALF: Mendy; Chalobah, Colwill, Sarr; Kenedy, Ampadu, Gallagher, Chilwell; Sterling, Havertz, Mount
On 30 minutes, Chelsea struck. Pulisic, who on Wednesday refused to answer a question about gun control, had no issues dealing with Batshuayi’s deflected shot to calmly take the ball into his stride and lift over the first of three Charlotte goalkeepers, Kristijan Kahlina.
Batshuayi then wasted another glorious chance when he could only shoot against the keeper’s outstretched leg before Marcos Alonso had his shot saved, with the English side finding their stride. A new Chelsea XI emerged after the break, with Sterling, who last played in England’s Nations League thrashing by Hungary on June 14, making his first appearance for the west London side.
The 27-year-old, who joined his new team-mates last week, gave the ball away on a number of occasions as the hosts gave as good as they got, missing a number of chances to level.
Sterling did produce one rapid surge, which left four defenders trailing in his wake, but his far post cross was too deep.
Christian Pulisic had given Chelsea the lead during the first half for Thomas Tuchel’s side
Conor Gallagher’s dreadful penalty during the shootout cost his team a pre-season victory
With six minutes remaining he was put through by Kai Havertz and did well to hold off a defender but his close-range shot from a tight angle was well saved.
Right on the end of normal time, however, the hosts got a chance to find a deserved equaliser when Ethan Ampadu gave the ball away and Chalobah handled the subsequent shot in the area.
Rios stepped up and drilled his spot kick past Edouard Mendy to send the home fans wild and trigger a shootout. Mount and Ben Chilwell (with the aid of a post) both tucked their penalties away before Gallagher’s casual attempt was foiled by Sisniega, who remained still.
Michy Batshuayi made a rare appearance for Chelsea after starting in North Carolina
The game was delayed by an hour due to severe storms in the build up to the match
Charlotte confidently scored their first four penalties meaning Sterling had to convert his. And he coolly slotted his effort into the left-hand corner, despite the antics of Sisniega on his line.
That meant it was left to Joswiak, who sent Mendy the wrong way to delight the raucous home crowd as fireworks flew into the now tranquil sky.
Chelsea now make the short flight down the east coast to Orlando, where they face old rivals Arsenal in the final game of their tour on Saturday night.
ALL THE ACTION AS IT HAPPENED…