Saturday 21 April 2018

John Terry makes first appearance since being cleared of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand

JOHN Terry made a surprise return to action for Chelsea last night with his first appearance for the club since being cleared by the courts of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand.

“He’s come through the ranks at our club and he’s an icon. He’s just happy that he can move on and play football,” said Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo following the 1-1 pre-season friendly draw against Paris St-Germain with Terry introduced as a second-half substitute.

The defender only flew out to join up with the rest of the squad on Friday but has been working on his fitness at the club’s Cobham training ground following his week-long court case.

So much talk at Chelsea has been of the imminent signing of Brazilian wonder-kid Oscar for around £25m, that it’s sometimes forgotten they have another already on their books – the 18-year-old attacking midfielder Lucas Piazon.

Last night, the teenager from Sao Paulo scored a late equalising goal against PSG, European football’s nouveau riche, in the second game of Chelsea’s tour to the United States.

The encounter took place at the Yankee Stadium, the home of the New York Yankees baseball team, and was the first football match ever to be played in the iconic arena which Di Matteo described as a “work of art”. Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich was among the crowd, dominated by the club’s supporters.

Piazon, who came on at half-time as Chelsea laboured with Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku providing further evidence that he is simply not at the required level for the European champions, was even named the official man-of-the-match although that honour should have been awarded to PSG’s fluid midfielder Javier Pastore.

The £37m signing was the only player to fulfil the full 90 minutes and ran the game from start to finish. As much promise as £35m Eden Hazard continued to show, he was eclipsed by the Argentinean who cost PSG an incredible £37m.

Chelsea’s record signing, £45m man Fernando Torres, will fly out to meet up with the squad as it heads to Philadelphia for the next leg of the four-match tour to face an MLS All-Star team on Wednesday which is set to include David Beckham and Thierry Henry. The Spaniard, however, will not play until the final game in Miami against AC Milan on Saturday.

PSG’s own all-stars are being assembled under Chelsea’s former manager Carlo Ancelotti although his two big summer signings – Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva – were not present yesterday. Ibrahomovic will meet up

with PSG tomorrow although in his absence another big-name arrival, and another Argentinean, winger Ezequiel Lavezzi threatened to tear the Chelsea defence apart as they were over-run in a one-sided first-half.

PSG are more progressed with their pre-season but Chelsea, experimenting with a 4-4—1-1 formation in which Hazard played behind Lukaku, struggled.

Wingers Kevin De Bruyne and forgotten man Gael Kakuta were anonymous and PSG spurned a host of chances before finally taking the lead as Pastore cleverly beat Gary Cahill only to flick a shot against a post. Nene then side-footed home the rebound.

“We were the better team in the first-half and we controlled the game against the best team in Europe,” said Ancelotti who made no fewer than eight changes at half-time while Di Matteo made four before introducing a raft of other mid-way through the second period.

Even after the interval PSG were still the dominant force but striker Guillaume Hoarau missed a host of chances before Piazon – signed for a fee that could rise to £10m when Ancelotti was at Chelsea - combined with fellow Brazilian Ramires to slide home a low shot.

Piazon has been drafted in as a makeshift striker with Drogba departed, Torres granted time off after Euro 2012 and Daniel Sturridge at the Olympic Games although Chelsea are in the market to sign another striker.

Florent Malouda wasted the opportunity to win the match for Chelsea although the continually impressive Pastore – who had hoped to move to Stamford Bridge before he signed for PSG – was twice thwarted by substitute goalkeeper Ross Turnbull.

Chelsea (4-4-1-1):

Cech (Turnbull, 63); Hutchinson (Chalobah, 63), Cahill (Terry, 63), David Luiz (Ivanovic, 46), Ferreira (Cole, 63); Kakuta (Ramires, 46), Lampard (Essien, 46), Mikel (Malouda, 63), De Bruyne (Marin, 46); Hazard (McEachran, 63); Lukaku (Piazon, 63)

PSG (4-3-3): Douchez (Areola, 63); Jallet (Camara, 46), Alex (Lugano, 46), Sakho (Bisevic, 46), Armand (Maxwell, 46); Chantome (Rabiot, 63), Bodmer (Tiene, 46), Pastore; Nene (Luyindula, 46), Gameiro (Hoarau, 46), Lavezzi (Verratti, 46).

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