Mexican striker Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez scored a brace but German Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen could only muster a 3-3 draw with Brazilian Serie A club Internacional in a thrilling match at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Florida Cup action.
Inter applied heavy pressure from the opening whistle and was able to strike early at the two-minute mark, after Eduardo Sasha ripped a screamer that found the back of the net from inside the box to give the Brazilian side a 1-0 lead. Just four minutes later, Inter was awarded a penalty after Andre Ramhalo had been deemed to have committed a hand ball. Andrés D'Alessandro converted from the spot to put Inter up 2-0.
Chicharito attempted his first shot of the match in the 12th minute with an effort well outside the box that was blocked away by William.
After a flurry in Inter's attacking zone Bayer countered into Internacional's final third where Christoph Kramer's cross intended for Chicharito was deflected behind for a corner, but Bayer was unable to capitalize. Inter simply had an answer for everything Bayer attempted.
Things would start to change in the 27th minute. Bayer finally had a chance off a Karim Bellerabi strike that went off the crossbar and out for a goal kick. Leverkusen had another great opportunity when the ball went across the goal mouth, but Alisson Becker was able to clear it off the line. In the 34th minute, play stopped when Stefan Keißling went down with an apparent calf injury, but was deemed okay to continue after no foul was awarded.
In the 36th minute, Rodrigo Durado had a great chance for Inter that beat outstretched goalkeeper Bernd Leno, but ultimately, the shot went just wide of the far post.
A heavy challenge in the 39th minute just inside the box gave Bayer a penalty that Chicharito converted to cut Inter's lead in half at 2-1 and it was at that moment the German side came alive. After plenty of back and forth action, Chicharito found the back of the net again with a strike that was deflected along the ground in first-half stoppage time to level things at 2-2.
inter kicked off to get things started in the second half and Leverkusen pressed the attack from the opening whistle, starting where they left off at the end of the first half. After a possession heavy opening, Bayer finally came close in the 50th minute, as Chicharito had a brilliant chance for his hat trick that sailed just high and struck the crossbar. Bayer dominated possession early on through the second half but couldn't generate any other opportunities after Chicharito's attempt.
In the 62nd minute, Inter broke through and Alan Costa collected the ball at the center of the Bayer box and drove the ball home to put the Brazilians back up, 3-2. Inter had good movement with the ball at that point, seemingly derailing the methodical possession Bayer had previously built to open the half.
It wasn't until in the 67th minute that Chicharito would find room past the Inter back line, but, thanks to a valiant leaping effort by subbed-on goalkeeper Muriel Becker, Chicharito was denied his hat trick yet again. Hernandez was subbed off and headed straight to the locker room in the 73rd minute, making way for Lukas Boeder.
In the 80th minute, Bayer equalized again with an own-goal from Costa off a low cross by Bellerabi that found the back of the net. At that point, Bayer looked very much like they did to open the half, pressing the attack and looking to finally go up on the Brazilian side. The Bundesliga side dictated possession and found their way into the attacking zone but weren't able to finish to break the 3-3 deadlock.
Bayer got a late chance to take the game when Giulio Donati was taken down in the 89th minute, setting up a free kick just outside the box. The free kick was played out for a corner and eventually Inter cleared their lines just before the final whistle blew and the teams split the points.
Bayer Leverkusen finishes the tournament with a win and a draw, outscoring its opponents, 4-3. Inter entered the tournament with tonight's match and will finish up a week from tonight against Fluminense in Fort Lauderdale.
Speaking of Fort Lauderdale, there was another Florida Cup match played there earlier this evening, with German side Schalke falling 3-0 to Brazil's Atlético Mineiro at Lockhart Stadium.
Schalke's loss combined with Bayer's draw pushes Leverkusen to the top of the Florida Cup table (so far) with four points. The next match of the tournament will take place Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at ESPN Wide World of Sports, but it won't count in the standings -- it's an All-Star Game.
The Mane Land will be on hand to bring you all the action.