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Chelsea Tops AC Milan in World Football Challenge Match


The English club Chelsea defeated Italy's AC Milan, 2-1, in a World Football Challenge match played in Baltimore, Maryland Friday night.

This was the fourth of six matches being played in this special round-robin tournament in the United States featuring four top foreign clubs. The other two are Inter Milan and Mexico's Club America.

It was the first-ever soccer game played at 11-year-old M&T Bank Stadium, which is the home field for the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League.

A sell-out crowd of 71,000 was treated to an action-filled match. Chelsea star Didier Drogba of Ivory Coast thrilled the fans with his blast from about 30 meters out that found the upper left corner of the goal in just the seventh minute.

Dutchman Clarence Seedorf got the equalizer for AC Milan in the 38th minute. The winning goal for Chelsea came in the 69th minute from newly-acquired Russian Yuri Zhirkov, who converted a rebound.

Chelsea's Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti was pleased with the win but also with the support for both teams.

"The victory is important because the atmosphere [chemistry] is good on the team, and for this we are happy," he said. "Thanks to all the fans in the USA because there was a beautiful atmosphere at the stadium, and I think that the teams played well."

Chelsea also won its opening game on Tuesday in Pasadena, California over Inter Milan, 2-0, and leads the standings.

Club America is in second place after a 2-1 win over AC Milan on Wednesday in Atlanta and a penalty shootout win over Inter Milan last Monday in (Palo Alto,) California. No 30-minute extra times are being played, so the tournament gives only two points for a shootout win instead of three.

AC Milan has the toughest schedule of the four teams, having to play three games in five days.

AC's Brazilian coach Leonardo does not particularly like the schedule, but he is happy his team is participating in the tournament, which is serving as a good pre-season warm-up.

"I think it's very exciting," he said. "I think in America they have something that's the future. That's why I think it's something very, very good to play these matches. I think that football here is very, very important. People play soccer. People want to know about soccer, and people know everything about us. And to be here with the club and to see how people follow us is something very, very good."

AC will take on rival Inter Milan on Sunday in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Chelsea and Club America will meet in their final tournament match, also Sunday, in the new NFL Stadium for the Dallas Cowboys.

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