SAN FRANCISCO -- The Titans of European soccer didn't disappoint an enthusiastic crowd of 22,208 on Wednesday night in the Guinness International Champions Cup at AT&T Park.
Everton FC defeated two-time reigning Italian champion Juventus 2-1 on penalty kicks when American keeper Tim Howard stopped defender Federico Peluso, who suffered through a rough night.
After ending the game in a 1-1 tie, Everton rallied to win the penalty kick contest 6-5 despite Leon Osman having the first shot blocked.
But that ominous start ended happily with the help of Howard's final block. Everton coach Roberto Martinez couldn't say enough about America's national team keeper.
"Tim Howard is a true leader," he said. "You couldn't have a better man standing in the goal" for the penalty kick format.
This was the first of 11 games in America among the tournament participants that also include Chelsea, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Valencia C.F. and the Los Angeles Galaxy. The games are meant to promote some of Europe's best teams in America while offering great preparation for respective league seasons that open in the next few weeks.
After a scoreless first half, Belgian forward Kevin Mirallas scored for Everton with a pinpoint shot inside the near post in the 62nd minute by dribbling past Peluso.
"He enjoys taking people on," Martinez said. "It takes a lot of quality to do that against a team like Juventus. It is what he is going to bring to us this season."
Once the Toffees scored, Juventus started to show form. Argentine star Carlos Tevez hit the right post in the 69th minute. Then Ghanaian midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah got the equalizer with 10 minutes left in regulation. That led to the penalty kicks. Unlike MLS, the teams didn't play overtime periods.
After falling behind in the penalty kicks, Everton got a break when Juve star Andrea Pirlo shot wide left with the score tied 4-4. After Seamus Coleman made it 6-5 for Everton, Peluso shot poorly at Howard to end it.
Everton will face either Madrid or the Galaxy on Saturday in Los Angeles in the tournament's winners' bracket. The tournament final is scheduled for Wednesday in Miami.
Juve coach Antonio Conte wasn't disappointed with the result, considering the team is coming off two weeks of training.
"It's better to see negatives in a match like this," he said, meaning mistakes are OK in the preseason.
Although an exhibition, the teams had much to show. With the opening of the Serie A campaign a month away, the tournament gives Conte a chance to evaluate his players. He started three of his newcomers -- Spain's Fernando Llorente, Italy's Angelo Ogbonna and Tevez.
Everton, in the middle of its preseason schedule, is hoping to improve on its sixth-place finish in the English Premier League when the season begins in a few weeks.
"It is a glamorous game against a team I have admired for the last few years," Martinez said before the game.
Afterward the coach offered a similar sentiment.
"You have to have a real strong mentality to go toe-to-toe with a team like Juventus," he said.