Corinthians see off Chelsea to take title
Corinthians 1 Chelsea 0“It’s a long way to come to lose,” said Frank Lampard, which pretty much summed it up.
The club world cup has been reclaimed by South America for the first time in six years, to the delight of thousands from São Paulo who had upped sticks to Shin Yokohama for this tournament.
A League Cup quarter-final tie awaits vanquished Chelsea at Leeds in midweek. And Rafael Benitez must contrive a way of picking this team up, as well as a starting line-up who are relatively fresh for Elland Road and a fixture that once would have stirred the senses.
Benitez’s squad will disembark their 12-hour flight at Heathrow mid-afternoon today with one full day to catch their breath before resuming their domestic campaign.
That a third trophy has slipped away, following on from the Community Shield and the European Super Cup, not to mention their elimination from the Champions League at the group stage, will do little to improve their mood.
At least any notion that this tournament had meant little to the European champions can be dispelled. The sight of Chelsea’s crestfallen players proved as much. They were unable to convert when chances had been eked out in the first period and this proved critical as Peruvian Paolo Guerrero, once a Bayern Munich player, registered the only goal midway through the second period.
It had owed plenty to the English club’s hesitancy, Jorge Henrique nodding down and Paulinho veering across the area with his heavy touch supplying Danilo. The winger cut inside and saw his shot loop up invitingly from Gary Cahill’s block. David Luiz and Ashley Cole were on the goal line, with Ramires also between the striker and his target but none could prevent Guerrero heading the loose ball in off the underside of the bar.
The Brazilians could delight in a holding game thereafter, despite Benitez’s complaints of time-wasting and histrionics.
Cahill and Emerson tangled in the last minute, the Corinthians player appearing to fling out an arm, then feigning agony after the centre-half flicked out his shin in riposte. Cahill was sent off and will be suspended for the Leeds game, yet the prospect of putting his feet up will not appeal.
Benitez attempted to put Torres’s five goals in three games into context.
“Again, you have to try and find the positives in the situation,” he said. He was there. He had the chances. He scored the goal that was disallowed. I agree that he has to take these chances in a final because it’s not easy to create too many in games like this. If you have two or three, you have to score. But at least he was winning a lot of balls in the air, he was fresh, and you could see that physically he is improving.”
Corinthians maintained high standards, with the muscular Paulinho growing into the game and Guerrero’s discomforting of Chelsea’s back line finally gleaning a reward.
“This was a real battle between the third world and the first world,” said the Brazilians’ defender, Paulo Andre. “For our people, for our fans, who have a difficult life, it’s so important to show . . . we can be the best in the world. Just once.”
For now they can bask in world domination.