Chelsea power into Club World Cup final
Chelsea shook off their Japanese jet lag as an early second-half blitz brushed aside Monterrey to set up a Club World Cup final against Corinthians.
Rafa Benitez has been talking up the tournament all week and today his team brought his words to life, sparkling against the Mexican champions in a display full of skill and invention. Never mind goal-line technology, just enjoy the goals.
Juan Mata started the rout after 17 minutes, and a quickfire strike straight after the break by Fernando Torres followed by a Darvin Chavez own-goal killed the contest while a late reply from Aldo de Nigris was nothing more than a consolation for Monterrey. In this form, don't bet against Chelsea adding the world crown to the Champions League and FA Cups already in their trophy cabinet.
Mata said: "We are glad to get the win because it's an important trophy for us. We want to be world champions and on Sunday we will do our best to get it.
"In the second half we were very focused to get more goals and we were able to get them, so it's a great result. We have confidence about winning on Sunday but we know that Corinthians are a very good team, and it will be a football party."
Japan's second favourite English side were well supported here by the locals, as they have been since their arrival last weekend. The nearby streets were littered with traders, many from London, selling blue scarves and shirts.
Inside there were echoes of west London too - plenty of echoes in a stadium barely a third full - with an early rendition of 'Stand up if you hate Tottenham' from the thousand or so Chelsea fans who had travelled here. Benitez was jeered as soon as his face appeared on the big screen, to help him feel at home.
But his team started with a flourish, for which the interim boss deserved some credit. He tinkered with the side that beat Sunderland last Saturday, this time with Oscar slotting into an attacking triumvirate behind Torres that also featured Mata and Eden Hazard.
Torres, buoyed by four goals in his previous two games under the tutelage of his old Liverpool manager, sent an early header over the bar and soon Luiz went close after nice work by Oscar. It was a wonder the Blues took as long as 17 minutes to take the lead, such was their dominance. The goal was a peach, though. Oscar and Ashley Cole exchanged passes, the England man running on to a backheel before crossing for Mata, who took a touch before slotting past Jonathan Orozco with his left foot.
Mata, as if to underline the spirit Benitez has talked about, held up six fingers in recognition of the stricken Oriol Romeu, who has been ruled out for the rest of the season.
However, Monterrey changed things around . Jesus Corona switched over to the left side and was quick to torment Cesar Azpilicueta before crossing for De Nigris to head over.
The striker's prowess in the air was expected to be one of their chief weapons but he rarely troubled Gary Cahill or Branislav Ivanovic at the back and they went into the break having failed to register a shot on target. In fact Petr Cech was not tested until a De Nigris shot midway through the second half.
The game was put to bed within three minutes of the restart with a brace of goals that came gift-wrapped by the Mexicans. First Torres, fed by the brilliant Hazard, fired home with the aid of a heavy deflection. Then Torres raced in from the left, fed Mata and his mis-hit shot was played beyond the goalkeeper by Chavez.
De Nigris then pulled a goal back in stoppage time when he drilled a shot past Cech.
There were no gongs for today's performance. For Chelsea, the big prize is within touching distance.
Independent News Service