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VIDEO, PICTURES: Chelsea stars shine bright at Soccer Aid 2019 as England XI lose on penalties

World XI come from 2-0 behind at sold out Stamford Bridge

Four goals, penalties, stars, celebrities, villains, old friends, fun, and it was all for a good cause. Safe to say that Soccer Aid 2019, held for the first time at (a sold out) Stamford Bridge was a rousing success, both on the pitch where the football was fun and at times, even excellent, and off the pitch with a willing crowd in the stands and £6.7m raised for Unicef.

It was a win-win-win.

Well except for England XI, who squandered a 2-0 lead and then somewhat hilariously, lost on penalties. Throwback!

No fewer than six Chelsea players started the match, three on each side, with John Terry, Glen Johnson, and Katie Chapman in the white of England (with Joe Cole on the bench) and Ricardo Carvalho, Michael Essien, and Didier Drogba in the black of the World XI lining up as guest whistle-blower Tom Hanks (Tom Hanks!) got things underway — celebritiest of all celebrity refs, Mark Clattenburg, was the actual “referee” and did his best impression of the “Battle of the Bridge” by not calling at least two stonewall penalties.

It was all England early on, with JT and Jamie Carragher marshaling the backline (even against the theoretical speed and skill and size of the Usain Bolt - Didier Drogba combo), Chapman and Johnson running the midfield, and the F2 Freestylers’ Jeremy Lynch providing the firepower up front. It was in fact Lynch with the first-half brace to stake England XI into the lead and that’s with Julio Cesar rolling back the years in the World XI goal and producing some wonderful saves. David Seaman at the other end of the pitch was a virtual spectator.

But the match turned just before half-time as Carra was deceived by a bounce (and probably his own lack of ups) and Bolt (mis-)hit a shot to tuck the ball just inside the far post. A much more even second-half then followed, culminating in a rather terrific goal from curly haired Arjen Robben Love Island-winnner Kem Cetinay, who was found by a surprise Eric Cantona, cut inside Terry and finished perfectly from the angle. Who is this kid again?

Just like last year, a penalty shootout then followed, where the celebrities of the World XI converted all their takes and England did not after their first effort.

Cue wild celebrations.

Of course, the occasion was about so much more than just the game.

It was about moments like Drogba and Carragher giving each other a big hug after the latter produced a goal-line clearance on the former’s shot. It was about Drogba’s Rabona and Roberto Carlos volleying a pass with his heel. It was about Essien still trying and JT bowling Julio Cesar over in an aerial duel. You can take the dog out of the fight, but you can’t take the fight out of the dog.

And of course it was about the money raised. And a bit of nostalgia. And lots of fun.

Here are some pictures, too. Let’s hope this event comes back to the Bridge again, soon.

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