CHARLOTTE, July 26- Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois made the difference Saturday, making two shoot-out saves and firing home the winner as the Blues downed Paris Saint Germain on penalties in an International Champions Cup friendly.
Ninety minutes of action saw the teams level at 1-1 after a goal from Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the first half and Victor Moses in the second.
Courtois saved the day for the Premier League champions, denying spot-kicks from Jean-Christophe Bahebeck and Thiago Silva before blasting the winner into the top corner for the 6-5 shoot-out triumph against the French champions.
It was a morale-boosting win for Chelsea, who fell 4-2 to Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls to open their pre-season North American tour.
The match between two clubs that clashed in the late stages of the Champions League the past two seasons got off to a tense start before a crowd of 61,224 at Bank of America Stadium — home of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.
The first minute saw a run-in between Diego Costa and Paris defender Serge Aurier, while Ibrahimovic appeared to strike John Terry in the head a couple of minutes before scoring, although neither player was cautioned.
Paris Saint Germain went ahead in the 25th minute. After Matuidi won possession near the edge of the penalty area and fed Jean-Kevin Augustin. The teen talent’s shot hit the post and fell to Ibrahimovic, who slotted it into an unguarded net.
Marco Verratti had a chance to double the lead in the 36th minute but his attempt to chip over Asmir Begovic went high.
Courtois replaced Begovic at halftime as both sides made multiple substitutions.
The Belgian turned away a 50th minute shot from Thiago Motta and as the half wore on Chelsea began to assert themselves.
After Cesc Fabregas and Lucas were off target, Moses combined with Fabregas for the equalizer in the 65th.
Radamel Falcao then came on for his first appearance for the Blues since signing a one-year loan deal in the wake of a disastrous one-year loan at Manchester United.
The Colombian looked sharp, and converted Chelsea’s first penalty of the shoot-out.
Chelsea play European Champions Barcelona in their last International Champions Cup match in Washington on Tuesday, while Paris Saint Germain take on Manchester United at Chicago’s Soldier Field on Wednesday.