Corinthians 1 Chelsea 0
Chelsea added global humiliation to their European embarrassment today as they became the first Champions League holders to fail to win the Club World Cup for six years.
A week and a half after making the wrong sort of history by crashing out of the competition that means the most to them, the Blues were at it again in Japan as they surrendered a trophy for the fourth time already this season.
Despite being firm favourites to beat Corinthians in Yokohama, they were outplayed and – more worryingly – outfought by the South American champions, who sealed victory through Paolo Guerrero in front of a partisan crowd of die-hard supporters.
Fernando Torres had a golden chance to take the game to extra-time – as Didier Drogba managed so famously in the Champions League final – but the Spaniard missed an absolute sitter and saw a stoppage-time header ruled out for offside after Gary Cahill was sent off.
It all added to the feeling that Chelsea’s £80million summer overhaul had left them with a team of also-rans, interim manager Rafael Benitez unable to instil a winning mentality.
Defender Branislav Ivanovic claimed yesterday today’s match could be the defining game for the current generation but it was their opponents who were the history boys, their tens of thousands of fans took their seats in the Nissan Stadium as early as the third-placed play-off.
They gradually cranked up the volume and unfurled a succession of supportive banners in similar scenes to those the Blues faced before the Champions League final in Munich.
That resulted in the fewest jeers and protest placards of Benitez’s short reign but today’s defeat will surely only strengthen the ill-feeling towards him.
Corinthians outworked Chelsea from the first whistle but there was encouragement for Benitez’s men when a goalmouth scramble from a corner saw Cahill narrowly fail to stab the ball past Cassio in what came close to being arguably the first high-profile test of goalline technology.
David Luiz, restored to centre-half, did well to outfox Emerson after Juan Mata uncharacteristically passed straight to the forward, Corinthians being given too much space in midfield.
And Luiz came to the rescue again after wasting a free-kick from which the Brazilians broke, while Guerrero appealed in vain for a penalty, having brilliantly nutmegging Cahill.
Cahill then got away with a major error just before the half-hour mark as Emerson panicked after the defender’s slip and blazed over.
Corinthians continued to call the tune and Emerson just failed to squeeze home Guerrero’s cross-shot.
Torres had offered little threat but that almost changed spectacularly eight minutes from the break when he superbly brought down Frank Lampard’s ball over the top only to stab straight at Cassio.
But the goalkeeper then excelled himself as a lightning Chelsea breakaway saw Hazard feed Victor Moses – the pair having switched wings – and the latter’s superb curling finish forcing a wonderful fingertip save.
Cassio also held Mata’s volley as Benitez’s side ended the first half on top, and they continued to probe after the restart.
Lampard saw a shot charged down, Hazard was denied by the legs of Cassio after bursting on to an inch-perfect Mata pass, and Moses’s knockdown was just behind Torres.
Jorge Henrique picked up the game’s first yellow card for tripping Mata but, roared on by an increasingly fervent crowd, Corinthians began to apply serious pressure of their own, Paulinho firing just wide.
In a game this tight, Torres’ inability to hold up the ball was threatening to prove costly and so it proved as Corinthians took the lead in the 69th minute.
Chelsea’s defence simply stood off as Henrique and Danilo danced across the box, Cahill’s block simply teeing up Guerrero to head home.
Corinthians celebrated jubilantly and it was too much for Luiz, who soon got himself booked for a foul on Emerson before Moses was hauled off for Oscar.
Benitez’s lack of attacking options became apparent when he withdrew Ivanovic for Cesar Azpilicueta.
And Torres’s Drogba moment finally arrived five minutes from time when the ball broke perfectly for him to beat Cassio from six yards but he could only send his shot straight at the keeper.
Oscar’s control also let him down after he got in behind and Chelsea’s misery was complete when Cahill was sent off for an off-the-ball clash with Emerson, Torres’ header was rightly ruled out, and Mata failed to poke home from a narrow angle.