Rafa's world falls apart! Back to (grim) reality for Benitez as Chelsea flop in final
22:00 GMT, 16 December 2012
The speech that Rafael Benitez was planning to give, on the back of triumph here, will remain neatly folded and unused in his pocket. Chelsea will not, after all, return home as world champions.
When they land in England, later than expected due to local air traffic restrictions, it will be not to fanfare, but the humdrum prospect of a Capital One Cup tie at Leeds United, followed by the slog of closing a 13-point gap on the Barclays Premier League leaders Manchester United.
Far from receiving a fillip from their brief diversion to the East, as hoped, if anything it gets harder from here.
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That's the one: Paolo Guerrero heads the ball into the net to score the winner
Magic moment: Guerrero (right) celebrates after his decisive intervention
Corinthians: Cassio, Alessandro, Chicao, Paulo Andre, Fabio Santos, Ralf, Paulinho, Emerson (Wallace 90), Danilo, Jorge Henrique, Guerrero (Martinez 86).
Subs Not Used: Julio Cesar, Douglas, Anderson Polga, Willian Arao, Edenilson, Fernandes, Guilherme Andrade, Felipe Monteiro, Giovanni, Romarinho.
Booked: Jorge Henrique.
Goals: Guerrero 69.
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic (Azpilicueta 83), Cahill, Luiz, Cole, Ramires, Lampard, Moses (Oscar 72), Mata, Hazard (Marin 87), Torres.
Subs Not Used: Turnbull, Mikel, Ferreira, Sturridge, Terry, Bertrand, Piazon, Saville, Hilario.
Sent Off: Cahill (90).
Ref: Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey).
Fixtures are piling up, the time
Benitez has to implement his thoughts is further restricted, and there
are still as many questions as answers about Chelsea's prospects in this
It was Benitez's second defeat as
Chelsea manager, and the reality is that his only victories so far have
been against two inferiors, Nordsjaelland of Denmark and Monterrey of
Mexico, plus Sunderland who are in freefall down the Premier League
Tite, the coach of Corinthians,
repeatedly referred to the amount of long passes which Chelsea played,
and he was right. Benitez's plan was to hit the Brazilians on the
counter-attack but, particularly in the first half, this too often
deteriorated into a raking pass overhit for a forward to chase.
Coupled with Corinthians' bruising
resistance, it was not pretty. Benitez needed victory here to prove his
methods are working. He intended to use a good result as a springboard.
Bringing home a first trophy would
not entirely stem the chorus of disapproval at Stamford Bridge but, if
followed by a run of form domestically, it might have caused a
reasonable number to re-examine his credentials.
Glory days: Corinthians celebrate with their trophy while David Luiz looks on in misery (below)
Removed: Gary Cahill was sent off late on as Chelsea fought for an equaliser
Frustrated: Chelsea struggled to break through against the Brazilians
Don't think he was not hoping to show
Roman Abramovich that his Chelsea could win the big matches, too.
Instead, this was a desperately unconvincing 90 minutes.
Chelsea were lifeless, slow to
respond and beaten by a side that finished the season in Brazil 20
points shy of champions Fluminese.
Corinthians were tough and awkward,
but no more. Their support was fanatical and relentless but the team
itself is mediocre; physical and combative rather than slick and nimble.
It wasn't even a case of wanting it more.
The Club World Cup may leave English
football dead but Chelsea did not look as if they did not care. They
were just not good enough.
Fernando Torres reverted to the form
that preceded the arrival of Benitez, and the defence looked careless
and nave, certainly for the goal. It is not so much that the best team
won, more that Chelsea did not do enough to elicit sympathy in defeat.
They were arguably the better team but, given their resources, they
Unquestionably, there is a way to go
before Benitez can deliver that rabble-rousing address. Nothing about
the way they played yesterday suggested champions in the making.
The first 30 minutes of the game were
quite dire, and the prize always looked likely to be decided by a
single goal. So it proved.
In the 69th minute, a shot by Danilo
was blocked by Gary Cahill, but looped up on the edge of the six-yard
box. A trio of Chelsea players standing on the goal-line watched it,
and one Corinthian striker, Paolo Guerrero, attacked it.
Tempers: David Luiz argues with the Corinthians coach
Tricky: Victor Moses tries to pile his way through on goal
Nearly: Guerrero reacts after missing a chance against Chelsea
Benitez had talked of the need to
eliminate mistakes and this goal will cause him much anguish in the
memory. If just one player had challenged, Guerrero's header might not
have decided the game.
Yet if Benitez is left with bad
memories, Cahill had a nightmare. Not content with losing and failing to
prevent a goal, he was sent off late in the match after a retaliatory
clash with Emerson, and may now miss the next game, at Leeds.
Cahill's dismissal can hardly be
held responsible for the outcome, coming in the 87th minute, but it was
the final insult on an occasion that, with hindsight, Chelsea could have
No way in: Eden Hazard is denied when through on goal
Foiled: Rafael Benitez's dreams of being a double world champion are in tatters
'It's a long way to come to lose,'
said Frank Lampard, summing it up perfectly. Chelsea had their chances
but, once again, the standard of finishing, particularly from Torres,
With four minutes to go, a move begun
with a throw-in from substitute Cesar Azpilicueta ended with the ball
dropping, as if guided divinely, at Torres's feet eight yards out. He
should have equalised, instead Corinthians goalkeeper Cassio smothered.
Abramovich paid 50million for Torres
for him to decide final matches like this. He is flattered by a recent
run of five goals in three games, against poor opposition.
Stunned: Luiz, Ramires and Frank Lampard react to going behind
Raucous: Corinthians fans filled the stadium as they saw their side triumph over their European champions
Victor Moses was called into the team
to offer assistance but he proved even less effective than Torres.
Moses was unable to cope with Corinthians' physical presence and managed
only one good chance, a 39th-minute curling shot which Cassio – who was
voted the player of the tournament – was at full stretch to tip round.
There were other opportunities.
Torres and Cahill nearly had the ball over the line in an 11th-minute
goal-line scramble, while Moses and Torres got into good positions,
without getting the ball under control.
Juan Mata had a snap shot saved and Torres and Eden Hazard were both through one-on-one but lost out to the rushing Cassio.
Pure delight: Corinthians players revel in their victory (and below)
Torres got the ball into the net as
the game crept into injury time, but his header was rightly disallowed
for offside. Corinthians, whose season has ended, had greater time to
prepare and a desire that coursed through the team.
It took the Brazilians in the
Chelsea squad to explain the significance of the Club World Cup to the
rest; Benitez's reward was to leave one of them, Oscar, on the bench.
Seeing the jubilant reaction of Corinthians it was hard to begrudge them
Last year, the presence of Lionel
Messi made even Barcelona's semi-final a sell-out and there was a real
air of anticipation around the tournament, but this event has been
defined by the attitude of the South American contenders, and their
desire to break a five-year stretch of European domination.
Corinthians' fans, upwards of 25,000,
packed the Nissan Stadium with noise, banners and flags, Corinthians'
players reacted to victory the way world champions should.
Chelsea stood glum and vanquished, a
long flight and a long season ahead, grim reality crowding in where it
was vainly hoped inspiring glory would be.
Wheely good: Keeper Cassio is given a giant key and the car below to celebrate his man of the match award
PS… Corinthians fans watching in their fans' club house in Brazil went WILD
VIDEO: 'One game at a time': Benitez turns attention to Premier League after defeat…
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