Chelsea saved their best for last on their tour of the USA, beating Barcelona 4-2 on penalties at the end of a spirited 2-2 draw at FedEx Field, home of the Washington Redskins in front of more than 78,000 fans.
Loic Remy scored the winning penalty after Alan Halivovic had missed for Barca and Thibaut Courtois, the official man of the match, saved from Gerard Pique. Radamel Falcao, who had another 20-minute spell, scored his penalty confidently as did Victor Moses and Ramires.
The penalty shoot-out victory though was less important than the improved performance. Though Barcelona started with a considerably weaker side than Chelsea – who had close to a full-strength line-up – their increased sharpness and cohesion was noticeable in an impressive first-half performance.
Hazard exchange shirts with Iniesta
And even when Chelsea fell behind as Barca, and Luis Suarez in particular, began to shine, they had sufficient stamina and determination to get themselves back into match.
A debut was given to 19-year-old Brazilian Kenedy, still not yet signed from Fluminese but was permitted to play in this game by his Brazilian club.
He impressed as well, strong in the challenge, tracking back well and quick getting forward.
He even directed a well-aimed kick at Adriano early on, refusing to be bullied. Still, whether he did enough in 45 minutes to earn his move was unclear.
Chelsea started well, both Kurt Zouma and Nemanja Matic both went close with headers and the Serbian should have scored from his while Oscar went close on seven minutes.
But, given the run of play, it was no surprise when Eden Hazard picked up the ball 15 minutes, easily beating Ivan Rakitic and swerved his way past two further Barcelona defenders before finishing coolly.
In a week in which he was described as better than Cristiano Ronaldo by his manager and in which he himself stated he needed to score as many as the Portuguese, it was a promising demonstration of what might be expected this season.
But, despite looking better than at any pervious stage of their US tour, Chelsea failed to press home their advantage. There was a delightful dinked free kick on to the bar by Oscar and Diego Costa should have scored when clean through on 33 minutes.
Slowly Suarez got the measure of Chelsea, renewing old acquaintance with Gary Cahill.
Courtois saved well from point blank range from the Uruguayan on 31 minutes and when Suarez wriggled away from his man to deliver a well-timed cross to Rakitic, Cahill slid in desperately to force him to shoot over.
But Suarez seems to reserve special pleasure for showing up Cahill and on 52 minutes a clever dummy totally deceived the Chelsea defender, Suarez feigning to shoot, which tricked Cahill into diving in and rendered him obsolete on the floor.
The Uruguayan simply recovered his poise to execute a delightful chip over Courtois. Not even the despairing lunge of Zouma could stop it going over the line.
Barca brought on Andres Iniesta, Pique and Pedro on the hour and immediately looked an even stronger unit but it was a younger player, 20-year-old Sandro who provided the breakthrough, breaking down the left, executing a step over in front of Branislav Ivanovic to create the space to curl the ball into the far right-hand corner of the net.
Chelsea did respond however, with Moses, who has been something of a revelation on this tour, incisive on the right.
Ramires should have scored on 79 minutes but drove wide from close range.
Chelsea gleaned their late equaliser from a Willian free kick on 86 minutes, which Cahill met bravely, heading home but receiving a blow from goalkeeper Jordi Masip to his he did so, which necessitated him being substituted.