A touch of Paris

July 25, 2016

The visitors from Italy and France didn’t get to experience a true game-day atmosphere at Autzen Stadium.

Perhaps the bold predictions by event organizers of a sellout for the pricey International Champions Cup match in a small market like Eugene were lost in translation.

Paris Saint-Germain defeated Inter Milan 3-1 in a friendly on Sunday in front of a crowd of 24,147 inside Oregon’s usually-packed football stadium, where 10,969 more fans gathered for the Ducks’ spring game.

“Maybe at the moment (soccer) is not the most important sport in the U.S.,” Inter Milan defender Davide Santon said. “A lot of people are watching us, so it could be very important for this country.”

Serge Aurier scored twice to lead PSG, the four-time defending Ligue 1 champions, to the win. The 23-year-old midfielder buried a rebound in the 15th minute to make the score 1-0 and salted the result away with a goal on a header in the 87th minute.

“It’s really important that we have a chance to play in a tournament that has a worldwide impact,” said first-year PSG coach Unai Emery, who is replacing legendary manager Laurent Blanc. “Of course, it is preseason.”

Following Aurier’s early goal, Inter Milan responded with some pressure that led to a yellow card issued to Presnel Kimpembe. Alphonse Areola made a save on a free kick, and defender Thiago helped the PSG goalkeeper out with a block on a rocket off the foot of Stevan Jovetic in the 38th minute.

In first-half stoppage time, Lucas Moura was called for a hand ball in the box. Jovetic scored on a penalty kick to even the score 1-1 just before the intermission.

“Obviously, Paris Saint-Germain is a really strong team,” Santon said. “They played Champions League this year, and you could see a little bit different between the two teams.

“We tried, played our best, played our game and we lost. But it was a good friendly game.”

Layvin Kurzawa bent a free kick around the wall and into the left corner of the goal in the 61st minute past a diving Samir Handanovic to give PSG a 2-1 lead.

Aurier made a potential goal-saving tackle in the 77th minute on Geoffrey Kondogbia, who was injured and left the game.

Inter Milan, the 18-time Serie A champion, is currently without Ivan Perisic, Eder, Gary Medel, Marcelo Brozovic and Jeison Murillo for the ICC. Striker Mauro Icardi is on the trip but did not play.

PSG stars Angel Di Maria, Edinson Cavani and Thomas Meunier entered as subs in the second half. David Luiz apparently did not make the trip to Eugene after training with the club in Los Angeles.

The 10-team ICC runs through Aug. 13 with matches in North America, Australia and China. Each team will play three matches and the club with the most points (three for regulation win, two for shootout winner, one for shootout loser) at the end of the tournament will be crowned champion.

The competition includes some of the most well-known franchises in sports: from England (Liverpool, Chelsea F.C. Leicester City), Italy (AC Milan, F.C. Internazionale), Spain (Barcelona, Real Madrid), Germany (FC Bayern Munich) and Scotland (Celtic F.C.).

In the ICC’s four-year history, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain have all won the tournament.

Inter Milan will play Bayern Munich on Saturday in Charlotte, N.C., before concluding its ICC schedule against Celtic FC on Aug. 13 in Limerick, Ireland.

PSG will play Real Madrid on Wednesday in Columbus, Ohio, and Leicester City in Carson, Calif., on Saturday.

“The crowd was good, they gave us a lot of support during the match,” Santon said. “Obviously, in Italy there are more people in the stadium.”