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  • By Alessandro Schiavone

A Chelsea flop turns hero in a charity game between legends in Belgium

By Alessandro Schiavone at Stade Maurice Dufrasne, Liege, Belgium

A Chelsea flop secured a win forTeam Del Piero over Team Davids in the Circus Cup in Liege on Sunday evening.

AC Milan great Nelson Dida repelled a spot-kick from Djibril Cissé during normal time and impressively repeated the feat, aged 50, with Gaizka Mendieta and Javier Saviola in the shootout.

But Portuguese Tiago Mendes, who spent a year without making his mark at Stamford Bridge back in 2004, expertly slotted past the Brazilian giant to win the charity contest.

His team also included former stars of the game like Simao Sabrosa, Sami Hyypiä and Dario Simic. And victory was secured against Davids' star-studded XI boasting the likes of Fernando Morientes, Jaap Stam, Wesley Sneijder and former Arsenal left-back Gaël Clichy.

Sneijder, a 2010 Champions League winner with Inter Milan, stole the show with his artistry on the ball, doing things that bordered on witchcraft.

Team Davids were right at it from the start. They didn't allow the opposition to play their normal game and gave nothing away, forcing them into schoolboy errors.

Hence after a promising front-foot start, they raced into a 2-0 lead thanks to a Morientes tap-in at the far-post and Marouane Fellaini's bullet header.

Del Piero reduced the deficit in the second-half when he beat Dida, like in the 2003 Champions League final showpiece. from 12 yards.

Minutes later and with their tails up, Argentine Saviola buried Simao's square ball to restore parity.

But Spaniard and ex-Reds striker Morientes showed that despite the passage of time he lost none of his old knack for goals when he latched on to a loose ball before chipping Real Madrid one-timer Diego Lopez from just outside the box.

Diego Lopez then excellently tipped Sneijder's thunderous strike on to the crossbar to keep his side in the game.

Pink-haired Cissé saw his penalty saved by Dida to make it 3-3 late on.

Yet Team Del Piero somehow nicked a later equaliser through Joaõ Miranda's volley in off the post to force the game to a shootout.

And Tiago, who turned out 52 times for José Mourinho's Blues back in 2004/05, settled the charity fixture with a well-taken penalty after a host of players were denied by the two former Milan keepers.

Tiago joined Abramovich's Portuguese Chelsea revolution in the summer 2004 from Benfica but unlike compatriots Paulo Ferreira and Ricardo Carvalho failed to deliver the goods on a consistent basis.

Only 12 months later Chelsea decided to cut their losses by shipping him to Olympique Lyon where he rebuilt his career.

And it was in 2006 that Tiago's Lyon saw their dream of a Champions League final shattered by Dida's then all-conquering Rossoneri in the semis.

Fast-forward 18 years, the tables have turned with Tiago, cool as a cucumber, taking his personal revenge.

This fine footballing spectacle helped raise €115,600.


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