A second-string New York Red Bulls punished a wasteful Chelsea, stunning the Premier League champions 4-2 in the International Champions Cup on Wednesday.
The Red Bulls were without regulars Bradley Wright-Phillips, Sacha Kljestan, Lloyd Sam and Dax McCarty, 24 hours on from New York’s penalty shoot-out loss to Philadelphia Union in the quarter-finals of the US Open Cup.
But Jesse March’s reserves stepped up to the plate against the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Thibaut Courtois, Branislav Ivanovic, Cesar Azpilicueta, Oscar, Diego Costa and Eden Hazard, despite trailing to Loic Remy’s 26th-minute opener at half-time in Harrison, New Jersey.
Franklin Castellanos equalized early in the second half, before two quick-fire goals from Tyler Adams and Sean Davis gave the Red Bulls a surprise lead with 17 minutes remaining.
Substitute Hazard reduced the deficit shortly after and almost sparked a comeback, but Davis extinguished Chelsea’s hopes moments later.
The Red Bulls were impressive from the outset on home soil, with Davis sending an early warning shot to Courtois, who scrambled across his line following a miscued effort from long range.
Chelsea’s physical presence at set-pieces proved troublesome and Ivanovic and Kurt Zouma almost combined for the opener approaching the midway point of the first half, but the latter was unable to steer his header inside the post.
However, Chelsea were not to be denied seven minutes later thanks to Remy, who adjusted his body, took an extra touch and fired the ball into the net, having been picked out by Oscar.
It should have been 2-0 four minutes later as Victor Moses scooped the ball over Red Bulls goalkeeper Kyle Reynish, but the winger’s shot came back off the upright.
Remy then inexplicably missed from close range in the 40th minute, after somehow kneeing his shot over the crossbar from inside the six-yard box.
At the other end, Courtois was almost embarrassed, having been caught in possession, though he recovered to deny Marius Obekop.
It took five minutes of the second half for the youthful New York outfit to draw.
After seeing his shot cleared off the line just second earlier, substitute Castellanos pounced on a poor back pass from John Terry to round new Chelsea goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.
Chelsea continued to be wasteful in the attacking third, as Diego Costa hit the woodwork and skied his follow-up effort over the crossbar just after the hour mark.
That proved costly as the Red Bulls hit the front with two quick-fire goals.
New York’s 16-year-old midfielder Adams found himself unmarked in the box as he glanced a header past Begovic with 20 minutes remaining, and Davis got in on the act three minutes later.
Hazard pulled a goal back for Chelsea almost instantly, but Davis restored his team’s two-goal buffer shortly after.
The remaining minutes of the match saw Chelsea occupy their attacking third, though Oscar and Costa wasted golden opportunities.
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