Neither lightning nor rain nor wind nor gloom of night stayed these clubs from the swift completion of their appointed World Football Challenge rounds, but only Italian powerhouse Juventus left Citi Field with a positive result in a 1-0 win over Mexican side Club America on Tuesday evening.
Following a 37-minute delay due to heavy rains and lightning in the 31st minute, Juve forward Cristian Pasquato fired a bold strike from the top left corner of the penalty area in the 42nd minute that beat Aguilas 'keeper Armando Navarrete -- who inadvertently set up the Juve shot by punching a ball in the six-yard-box towards Pasquato -- for the game's only goal.
Pasquato's goal occurred despite possession woes for the Bianconeri, who endured a 42%-to-58% possession gap at the half and struggled to string multiple passes through a taut Club America defensive line. Juventus closed that gap in the second half, but struggled all evening to create much pressure in the attacking third.
The Gang's Mostly Here. Citi Field did not come close to the near-sellout crowd that showed up for the Greece-Ecuador friendly in June, but the World Football Challenge match packed the house with 20,859 paying and vocal customers that produced an even split between Juventus and Club America supporters.
The supporters largely stuck around after the rain delay and scored their chants with blaring horns and vuvuzelas for the full 90 in what may be the last soccer match at Citi Field this summer, but hardly the last in the foreseeable future.
Play of the Game: Buffon's Save on Benitez. Club America dominated in its defensive efforts against the 27-time Italian champions in the first half, but struggled to find the finishing touch for an equalizer.
In a last gasp before the whistle, Club America forward Cristian Benitez fired a shot from point-blank range in the Juventus penalty area, only to have Bianconeri 'keeper Gianluigi Buffon parry it wide left and end the attack. Club America manager Carlos Reinoso executed a mass substitution after halftime -- including a change in net from Navarrete to Hugo Gonzalez -- which did not create as good a chance as the one snubbed by Buffon.
Going the Distance. Benitez had changed the majority of his starting XI by the 58th minute, but first-year Juventus coach Antonio Conte elected to keep his starting lineup intact until the 73rd minute when Bianconeri captain Alessandro Del Piero along with Paolo De Ceglie, Andrea Pirlo, Milos Krasic, and Alessandro Matri called it a night.
The extra time against the Club America subs helped the Juventus possession game a smidge, but did little to restrain an Aguilas attack that simply failed to convert on its numerous chances.
All Wet. The makeshift pitch at Citi Field largely held up despite the quick turnover time following the New York Mets' 5-4 matinee loss to the Florida Marlins on Sunday as well as the rain on Monday and in-game rain delay. The ball moved at a sluggish pace at times when going over the sodded-over stretch between second and third base -- and despite no tarps covering the field during the rain delay -- but it did not appear to hamper the run of play in any meaningful way.
Juventus will now prepare for its U.S. Tour and World Football Classic finale against Chivas de Guadalajara at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C. on Thursday, July 28. Club America will have a bit more time to prepare for its WFC final match against the UEFA Champions League title-touting side of F.C. Barcelona at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas on August 6.