Everton triumphed in their first game of the inaugural International Champions Cup with a 6-5 victory over Juventus in dramatic penalty shoot-out that saw young John Stones pull out a moment of magic that would have made Andrea Pirlo proud... just moments after the Italian maestro had swept his own spot kick wide of Tim Howard's post.
After a keenly-contested game had ended 1-1 after 90 minutes, Tim Howard made the all-important save to deny Federico Peluso with the sudeen-death penalty to set up a semi-final clash with Real Madrid.
Undaunted by facing the Italian champions, Roberto Martinez's side began in composed fashion, easing their way into the proceedings with a patient possession game and they thought they had scored after just seven minutes but Phil Jagielka's header was ruled out for offside.
The Blues continued to have the better of the first half, though, with a back three of Jagielka, Sylvain Distin and Stones looking confident and difficult toi break down. Indeed, the 19 year-old defender, who only arrived from Barnsley in January, put on a precocious display and was arguably the best player on the park before his audacious penalty in the shootout.
He, too, came very close to opening the scoring when he rose to meet Steven Pienaar's set-piece but his header came off the inside of the post and bounced away.
The Italians were in uncompromising mood but had largely failed to trouble Tim Howard's goal until Luca Marrone sliced a gilt-edged chance wide at the back post when he really should have scored.
Juve emerged from the second half with a good deal more purpose about their play and Carlos Tevez started to cause a few problems flitting around the edge of the Blues' area before popping up on the right side of the box and smashing a shot into the side-netting.
Everton looked dangerous on the break, though, and after Howard had brilliantly saved Vidal's free kick, Kevin Mirallas was put through the opposition defence with a really good chance to open the scoring but he was forced wide of goal and Storari beat his shot behind for a corner.
The Belgian didn't need asking twice, though and when he found himself in space inside the Juventus box and bearing down on goal, he cut inside the last defender with typically tight control and fired inside the near post to make it 1-0.
Howard's increasing bearing on the scoreline manifested itself shortly afterwards when he denied Vidal once more with another diving save, followed by a double stop to foil Tevez and then Mirko Vucinic.
In between, substitute Bryan Oviedo tested Storari with a diving header following lovlely footwork by Mirallas and the lively Costa Rican tried his luck with a right-foot effort but the 'keeper was again equal to it.
1-0 really should have been 2-0, though, when Pienaar raced clean through the middle of the defence with just Storari to beat but, incredibly, he placed his shot wide of the right-hand post.
And, after the introduction to a loud reception from the majority of the AT&T Park crowd of Pirlo with a quarter of an hour to go, Juve made the South African pay for his profligacy. A cross from the right squirmed off Leon Osman's boot inside the Everton area and Asamoah drilled a shot across Howard and inside the far post the level things up.
A late cameo by Ross Barkley almost forced a last-minute winner but his shot was saved and the game went straight to penalties.
Everton were handed the responsibility of taking the first spot kick but when Osman, who had looked a little short of sharpness after coming on as a second-half substitute, planted
a weak shot too close to the 'keeper, it looked as though the Blues might have spurned the chance to meet Real Madrid, the likely winners over LA Galaxy the following day.
That eventuality looked even more certain as Juventus unerringly converted each of their penalties past Howard, preserving a one-goal advantage until Pirlo strode forward to score the winning penalty... or so he and 22,000+ others thought until his shot flew past the post.
Cue Stones. Pirlo had lit up the European Championships last summer with a cheeky "Panenka-style" penalty but there can't have been anyone who thought that the inexperienced defender would try to emulate the Italian international.
Yet he did just that, sending the keeper the wrong way and clipping a peach into the top corner.
Motta and Seamus Coleman kept the tension going by burying the next two kicks before Howard guessed right when facing Peluso and parried his kick to seal the win for the Blues who moved on to face Real in Los Angeles on the following Saturday.
Everton started with none of their new players, Kone being excused because of Ramadan and kicked off with some nice possession stuff. Midfield possession football ensued, each side happy to pass it around without much real penetration.
An early free-kick from long distance was deflected away, followed by a second that went through everyone although an offside Jagielka was deemed to have touched it an the goal was disallowed.
It got pretty lively after that, Everton pressing and putting together some good advance play but it did not produce any real chances. It was reasonably competitive and that was good for focusing the concentration on a very narrow pitch.
Anichebe was falling over at the slightest touch, which was not encouraging, as Juve began to settle and get more of the ball, while some hideous music boomed out over the Bay.
The first decent shot came from Maronne straight at Howard with 18 mins gone as Everton were making a few mistakes trying to play it forward from the back, Anichebe too busy fighting to actually chase a good ball from Baines. A classic Bainaar move saw Baines cross well but there was no-one in an advanced position to attack it.
Pienaar got a smidgen of space off a long ball headed sown by Anichebe that he tried to curl into the top corner. Juve responded, winning a corner off Stones played short that beat everyone and Maronne had an open goal that he squandered shockingly.
Vidal looked to volley in from Anichebe's clearance off a Tevez corner, but it flew wide. But Juve were looking a lot better and starting put the Everton defence under some real pressure.
Anichebe did well to steal the ball then win a well-place free-kick that Baines again drove low and into the defence, coming to nothing.
Another free-kick, awarded to Anichebe in his perennial battle with Ogbonna, taken by Mirallas, Stones headed onto the post... so close to the opening goal. Everton go in at the half-cruelly denied what could have been a deserved two-goal lead.
At the break, no changes, with Roberto Martinez telling Fox Scocer he was pleased with the competitive nature of the first half.
Interesting to see Howard throwing out a defensive clearance but nit making enough ground and ceding possession with the Blues pushed back from the kick-off, giving away a corner that Pelouso headed over. Pienaar got a chance but lashed it wide.
A through-ball set Mirallis off but Peluso denied him crucially, driving him wide and his shot was saved. Juve counter-attacking and forceing some determined Blues defence off Tevez and then Vidal, who drove his shot into the side netting.
Gibson made a poor mistake then lunged in on Tevez, but from the dangerous free-kick, Vidal forced an excellent save from Howard as Everton rocked under the increased pressure, continuing to make more and more poor mistakes. Blues in need of subs... but Roberto dithered!
But a quick counter, started deep by Anichebe, saw the ball played up to Mirallas who drove into the box well, beat hos man, and powered home under s lot of pressure, great goal. Baines and Gibson then gave way to Oviedo and Osman as Everton looked to hold their hard-earned lead.
Oviedo got called for a foul and Tevez again stepped up but his cross was far too deep and really poor.
A cutting move jhelded along by Osman split the Everrotn defenc asunder but incredibly no-one could put the ball in the Everton net, a miraculous escape for the Blues, Tevez then lashing one off the stanchion.
Stones was then key in stopping another feirce Junventus attace as Pirlo came on for Maronne and Padoin for De Ceglie. But another good Everton break saw Mirallas cross for a great diving header from Oviedo that was desperately parried by Storari in the Juve goal. Oviedo then fired over in traffic
It was really stunning when Pienaar had a glorious opportunity to make it two but incredibly fired wide as the action was end to end, with both teams striving for the win, Tevez curling one around Howard but he produced a magnificent stretching save... followed by a superb reaction save off Vidal that needed a second and a third bite of the cherry right under the bar.
At the other end, Mirallas again breaking forward, fired a great shot that Storari saved very well, but at the other end, a horrible mistake by Osman, sets it up perfectly for Asamoah to hammer home an unstoppable shot: 1-1. Really, really poor from Osman.
Ogbonna finally went in the book after wrestling Anichebe to the ground for the umpteenth time. But Mirallas curled the set-piece over the wall and straight into the keeper's arms. Everton were struggling to contain Juve near the end, with Martinez strangely reluctant to change the personnel until Ross Barkley replaced Anichebe with 2½ mins left before penalties.
A brilliant piece of work by Barkley saw a fearsome shot released from the middle of a crowd that swerved but was too close to Storari who blocked it away for a late corner, and penalties ensued.
Everton embark on their part of the prestigious Guiness International Champions Cup on Wednesday when they take on Italian Champions Juventus at AT&T Park, the home of reigning World Series Champions the San Francisco Giants.
The baseball team's notoriously breezy home turf will be transformed into a regulation football pitch for the second match in the inaugural tournament, a game that, as Dr David France coined it, represents the "Lost Uefa Super Cup".
The post-Heysel ban on English clubs competing in Europe robbed Everton, the winners of the 1985 European Cup Winners' Cup, of the chance to meet Juventus, that year's European Cup winners, and this week's match-up brings the two clubs together for the first time, 28 years on since that fateful decision.
Though the ICC is ostensibly an exhibition tournament it represents an excellent opportunity for Roberto Martinez to tune his squad against top-class opposition. Indeed, it puts the Blues in the illustrious company of the likes of Wednesday's opponents Juve, Real Madrid, AC Milan and Internazionale (not to mention big-spending Chelsea) for which the Everton hierarchy deserve enourmous credit for securing our involvement.
And as daunting as that opposition appears to be on paper, it also provides Martinez with the chance of winning a trophy – however inconsequential – before six weeks have elapsed since he officially took the reins at Goodison Park.
Building the players' fitness, improving their match sharpness, avoiding serious injury and ensuring that some of the younger players get sufficient playing time will be the new boss' main priorities but the chance to win an eight-team competition against some of the best teams in the world will surely be at the back of his mind.
Furthermore, the new Premier League season will be just two-and-a-half weeks away when this game kicks off so it would not be surprising to see Martinez field a strong line-up from the start against Juve.
As well as regular pre-season starters like Kevin Mirallas, who has looked sharp and dangerous thus far, Nikica Jelavic could find himself in the starting XI, perhaps alongside Arouna Kone, but some more caution may be exercised with Leighton Baines after he was rested against Blackburn on Saturday with a minor hip complaint.
There will also, of course, be anticipation surrounding 19 year-old Barcelona starlet Gerard Deulofeu who is set to make his first appearance in the Royal Blue Jersey on the US tour. It's unlikely he will start but, after being put through his paces in a training session at Ewood Park after the 3-1 win over Blackburn at the weekend and impressing in training in San Francisco on Monday, he will no doubt be ready to play his part as a substitute.
Juventus, for their part, brought a 30-man squad to the US, among them draws like Andrea Pirlo, Gianlugi Buffon and former Manchester United and City striker Carlos Tevez who made the switch to the Old Lady this summer.
The Turin giants will be behind in terms of fitness and pre-season preparations and that might give the Blues a leg up as Martinez and his new charges look to kick their pre-season campaign up a notch.
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