Copa Libertadores winners Corinthians prevailed against Champions League winners Chelsea, to end a Club World Cup record run of five European wins in a row.
The first London club to earn their place in the FIFA Club World Cup could not match a spirited, theatrical and lively Corinthians side, with Guerrero’s goal enough to separate first place and second.
The Brazilian side has 20,000-strong fans roaring them onto victory, and though Chelsea’s 1,000 travelling band is respectable with the 13-hour flight from England to the Far East, the huge contrast was as evident as the Champions League Final held in Munich.
Even the large numbers of Japanese Chelsea fans could not match the vocals of their Samba rivals. Perish the thought Japan was meant to be a neutral venue.
For Chelsea this may be a new experience, but for Rafael Benitez, far from it. The former Liverpool and Inter Milan coach has participated in this showpiece event twice before, losing with The Reds, before winning with Jose Mourinho’s European triumph in 2010 for the Italian side.
But this morning’s loss became the third time a Brazilian team beat an English team to become world champions, with Livepool losing out to Flamengo in 1981, before that 2005 loss to Sao Paulo, of which Rafael Benitez was a part.
As for Chelsea’s players, their final record is a little better. Nine wins from 12 finals in the last eight years made Chelsea firm favourites.
But back then, there was Didier Drogba, and it is no coincidence that the three finals The Blues have played in post-Drogba, they have all lost.
Fernando Torres may well have taken his place, but he is nowhere near taking his influence. The Ivorian thrived off the big matches, scoring nine goals in nine finals for his former side, but the Spaniard, though experiencing a mini-revival in the past week, cannot live up to the matches which require his assistance the most.
It must be said, however, that the 28-year-old had never lost a final before. Juan Mata, who himself has scored in his last four games, was played just behind Torres, whilst we saw the return of Frank Lampard.
Between Lampard, Cole and Cech, the two other starting 11 players who were over 30 years of age aside from the stand-in captain, they have recorded a whopping 23 Final wins.
David Luiz, with his love for his boyhood side well-documented, did his professional best to get the job done for his current side. Having excelled in a midfield role against Monterrey and Norsjaelland, it was typical Benitez to shove him back into defence, just as he was getting used to his new berth. Did that deter him from advancing up field? Not a jot.
Gary Cahill, though a born centre-back, has Chelsea’s first real chance. A lucky ricochet from a corner meant the ball was in the path of the former Bolton man, but from three yards out, the Golden Ball winner Cassio saved with his rear.
It was the first chance to test the new Goalref technology, but the ball was not even on the line, and had Gary Cahill directed the motion of the ball anywhere but where Cassio was, events might have turned out very differently indeed.
For a Brazilian team and with Chelsea trying to emulate that silky Brazilian flair, it was a very European tie. Crude challenges were seen aplenty, with Cuneyt Cakir showing leniency in the early stages.
Victor Moses, credited for his directness and chosen ahead of Oscar because of the width he added to the Blues’ play, was denied by another top-drawer Cassio save.
But neither side really took control of an open affair, with Chelsea having to be on their toes to stop Guerrero and Emerson from making the break-through.
Eden Hazard ought to have done better after a fantastic Juan Mata through-ball, but the Belgian chose to go away from goal, and as angles closed in, any chance of the shot becoming a goal decreased exponentially.
But then on the 69th minute, Corinthians went one-up. Danilo’s shot was blocked by Gary Cahill, but the ball looped towards the head of the Brazilian’s Number 9, who headed home, despite Luiz and Cole on the line.
Patience turned into desperation quickly for Benitez, who turned to Oscar, Azpilicueta, and finally Marin for ideas, all to no avail.
The best chances came to Fernando Torres within final few moments. The former Liverpool target man has never lost a tournament final in his career, but whilst his second attempt went in from an offside position, the first really ought to have pierced the onion bag. However, the Spaniard shot straight at Cassio from three yards out, very similar to Gary Cahill’s chance earlier in the match. The difference is one is a £50 million world-class striker, the other is a former relegation-fighting central defender, but you would not have guessed it.
Reward for the being FA Cup winners is £1.8 million. If Chelsea has won this competition today, they would have been £3.1 million richer. As it stands, just the paltry £2.5 million in prize money.
And so Rafael Benitez must regroup his side, who face Leeds United in the Capital One Cup. The three glorified cups, which were a reward for a phenomenal 2011-2012 campaign, have evaded Chelsea’s grasp. Four still remain, more than for any other English side.