It may have taken 120 minutes, but Chelsea pulled through, beating Palmeiras 2-1 to win the Club World Cup.
The first half came and went without any significance as the Blues struggled to break down a resolute Palmeiras defence. But a moment of quality from Callum Hudson-Odoi on the left found Romelu Lukaku whose bullet header opened the scoring.
Palmeiras didn’t lie down though as a penalty, somewhat controversially awarded, brought them level through Raphael Veiga and ultimately forced extra time.
However, it would be a penalty awarded to Chelsea because of another handball that would provide the difference between the two sides. Under the night sky in Abu Dhabi, Kai Havertz coolly sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to send Chelsea fans into ecstasy and break Palmeiras fans’ hearts.
Palmeiras vs Chelsea: Player ratings as Blues triumph
Edouard Mendy – 7
Straight back into the line-up against Palmeiras following his AFCON victory with Senegal, it was a quiet evening for Mendy. Veiga sent him the wrong way for the equaliser but away from that he was faultless, bringing a calmness to the Chelsea defence.
Andreas Christensen – 6.5
The Dane has struggled with form and fitness in recent weeks but against Palmeiras but it was a better all round display from the 25-year old. He snuffed some dangerous attacks early on before some poor one on one work let Palmeiras’ Dudu through on goal, but he wasn’t punished. Three out of seven duels won is a telling statistic though.
Thiago Silva – 8
A mainstay this Chelsea defence since signing last season, he once again led the team with his experience and skill. He was afforded a lot of time in possession and tried to capitalise on that with his pinpoint long balls. Throughout the course of the game, he was immaculate defensively with his only blip being at fault for the penalty.
Antonio Rüdiger – 8.5
The German defender was awarded the FIFA Man of the Match and rightly so. He personified calmness with how he went about his work and nearly popped up with a goal too.
Cesar Azpilicueta – 7
The man who joined Chelsea from Marseille in 2012 for the small fee of £7 million has won everything he could at Stamford Bridge. His leadership qualities told when it looked as if he was going to take the decisive penalty and bore the brunt of the pressure from the Palmeiras players before handing it over to Havertz. Away from that it was a typical Azpilicueta performance. Nothing fancy but solid defensively whilst his attacking limitations were highlighted again.
Mateo Kovacic – 6
After his man of the match display on Wednesday against Al Hilal, the Croatian will have been disappointed with his effort in the final. He struggled to have an influence from deeper areas considering how Palmeiras set up before being substituted ahead of extra time.
N’golo Kante – 6.5
Just like his midfield partner, it was a quiet evening for the Frenchman. He was the further forward of the two and was trying to have an effect, but nothing materialised for him. His passing was slightly off again, but nevertheless, in his usual manner he snuffed out dangers both in transition and in the middle of the park.
Callum Hudson-Odoi – 7
Saturday evening encapsulated perfectly why Blues fans get so frustrated with the young winger. In the opening period he struggled to beat his man and looked devoid of ideas but the one time he did he provided an inch perfect assist for Lukaku’s goal. Chelsea will want more of the same from him in the coming weeks.
Mason Mount – 5.5
After not starting on Wednesday because of an injury, the Englishman trudged off after half an hour yesterday with the same issue. His energy was key in the opening exchanges but that quality was missing, and his evening ended on crutches.
Romelu Lukaku – 8
Under fire and under pressure, the Belgian has responded well in recent days with goals against Al Hilal and Palmeiras. The old adage of give him the goods and he will produce couldn’t ring any truer than in this game. Once he got a chance, he took it and made it count. There might be something to read into him being subbed off after 76 minutes though, but time will tell.
Kai Havertz – 8
The German is officially the best on the earth. He scored the winner in the Champions League Final and now the Club World Cup Final, which he did so in a remarkably cool manner. In general play, he enjoyed the space he was afforded in between the lines but knows he can do better with the ball at his feet.
Christian Pulisic – 7.5
Before the final he spoke out about not playing a lot recently but because of the Mount injury he was afforded a great opportunity and it was the best of the American we have seen for a while. He looked bright, incisive and motivated in his play. Although he left with no goal contribution to show for it, it shows him on the right path.
Timo Werner – 6
The German forward injected new life into a tired Chelsea frontline and helped to stretch a weary Palmeiras defence. However, he left a lot to be desired with his output.
Saul Niguez – 6.5
His extra time appearance was full of signs of an experienced footballer in the midfield. He drew fouls to break up the game and helped relieve the pressure on his defence.
Hakim Ziyech – 6
The Morrocan didn’t have much time to make an impact after starring performances in recent weeks but his usual enticing balls were delivered into the box to no avail.
Malang Sarr – 6
Many fans called for him to start the game as a left back in a back four but Thomas Tuchel chose not to. However, he still made a valuable contribution off the bench as he helped to see out the game in a quiet but effective manner.
Written by Harrison Burridge (@hburridge2)
Edited by Dan Hill (@idanknow05)
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