Thomas Tuchel’s team did it the hard way in Abu Dhabi, requiring a 117th-minute penalty from Kai Havertz to earn the only remaining title to have eluded them
Chelsea are world champions for the first time in their history. Thomas Tuchel’s team did it the hard way in Abu Dhabi, requiring a 117th-minute penalty from Kai Havertz to earn the only remaining title to have eluded them.
Romelu Lukaku had put the European champions in front ten minutes into the second half but Palmeiras had levelled from the spot after a Thiago Silva handball., Raphael Veiga converting calmly
On an evening of average quality at Mohammed Bin Zayed stadium, the game seemed destined for a shootout but then Cesar Azpilicueta’s shot with four minutes to go was handled by Luan and after a lengthy VAR check the Australian referee Chris Beath pointed to the spot.
The German stuttered on his run up but Weverton, the Palmeiras goalkeeper, chose the wrong way. The 15,000 Palmeiras fans were heartbroken, their players on the verge of tears, as those in blue wheeled away to celebrate.
While Chelsea dominated possession, they found it difficult to break down a resilient Brazilian side that carried plenty of threat on the break and marginally had the better chances of a tight first half.
Rony and Dudu both went close, the former forcing Edouard Mendy into a save and the latter failing to curl a good attempt on target when in plenty of space. Andreas Christensen and Toni Rudiger needed to make a couple of solid recovery challenges to deny further threats from developing.
At the opposite end Chelsea’s attack again appeared to be on a different wavelength and up until the header Lukaku was isolated. The supply could have been better but the Belgian did not do much to affect the play either, his increasing level of frustration illustrated by his body language as the minutes passed by.
The opener was well taken but it was mostly about Hudson-Odoi’s fine work and composed delivery from the left, with several team-mates running straight to him to celebrate. Lukaku, boosted by scoring again, then found Pulisic with a neat layoff only for the substitute to drag wide with space opening up in front of him.
Their lead would only last nine minutes and while Thiago Silva looked bemused it was hard to debate the penalty being awarded after Australian referee Chris Beath checked his video monitor. Raphael Veiga was poised when sending Mendy the wrong way, nearing combustion once the ball hit the net.
In response Tuchel brought Timo Werner and Saul Niguez on for Lukaku and Hudson-Odoi, leading to Pulisic moving to left wing back but piles of possession failed to yield a clear opportunity in the 90.
Extra time provided more of the same, although a neat piece of play from Timo Werner on the left led to the ball glancing off the woodwork via Pulisic. Palmeiras looked content to drag the tie towards a penalty shootout but then Azpilicueta’s shot was handled by Luan and, after another video check, the captain picked the ball up and it briefly looked like he would take it himself before handing duties to Havertz.
The Champions League here is now the Club World Cup hero; his finish as cool as it can get.