FIFA: Internazionale are world champions
UEFA Champions League holders Internazionale FC of Milan are the new FIFA Club World Cup winners having defeated surprise package TP Mazembe of Africa by a 3-0 scoreline in Abu Dhabi this evening. Goals from Goran Pandev, Samuel Eto’o and late substitute Jonathan Biabiany sealed the deal for the Nerazzurri and gifted coach Rafael Benítez with his second trophy as coach of the Milanese giants having won the Italian Super Cup at the start of the season.
The game was always going to be an historic occasion in world football irrespective of the result as it saw a team from outside Europe and South America compete in the final for the very first time. CAF African Champions League holders TP Mazembe from the Democratic Republic of Congo had already exceeded the expectations of their fans by reaching the semi-finals having beaten CONCACAF Champions League winners Pachuca CF in the quarter finals. Beating Copa Libertadores champions Internacional of Brazil in the semi-finals, on the other hand, was something extraordinary for a team who have captured the imagination of fans around the world for their compact style of play and wonderful goal celebrations, most notably from their goalkeeper Muteba Kidiaba.
For Internazionale the objective was simple; avoid humiliation. Coach Benítez was present in the stadium to see TP Mazembe defeat Internacional and certainly didn’t underestimate his opponents. Nonetheless the game started off well enough for his team going two up in the first twenty minutes. Goran Pandev gave the Nerazzurri the lead as early as the 13th minute after Samuel Eto’o had played him through the middle allowing the Macedonian to stab the ball home from close range. Cameroonian Eto’o would double Inter’s advantage just four minutes later after firing home from the edge of the penalty box following Javier Zanetti’s pullback from the byline. With such an advantage so early in the game many people were hoping that the Africans wouldn’t be on the end of a rout and, mercifully for Mazembe, Diego Milito didn’t have the same scoring qualities as some of his colleagues tonight as he missed two great chances in the first half to all but end the game as a contest.
The second half began with Inter controlling possession as they made the Africans work to win the ball back. Once the clock had reached the hour mark, however, Mazembe finally began to see some of the ball and began, little by little, to create chances. The worst offender in front of goal for the Congans was Dioko Kaluyituka who had his team’s three best chances of the game but was unable to find the back of the net. Not only did he see a shot blacked late in the first half but he rounded Julio Cesar in the 75th minute only to miscontrol the ball. Five minutes later Kaluyituka shot from very close range towards Cesar, the Brazilian palming the ball away to safety with the Africans regretting the fact that they never seemed to get the bounce of the ball throughout the game. The crowd, many of whom were fans of Internacional who had seen their team claim third place with a 4-2 win over Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma in the earlier game, were raising the noise levels encouraging Mazembe to score. Sadly for them, in the 85th minute, substitute Jonathan Biabiany, who had been on the pitch for fifteen minutes, beat the offside trap following a wonderful pass from Dejan Stanković and rounded Kidiaba to make it 3-0 and begin the celebrations on the Internazionale bench.
The win for Internazionale FC means that European teams have won the last four editions of this competition following triumphs for FC Barcelona, Manchester United and AC Milan. Taking into account all of the previous finals in all other guises of the competition, Europe and South America are now tied with 25 wins each. For TP Mazembe their objective is to win the CAF champions League for a third successive year, something which has never been achieved in the African football’s elite club competition, and try to emulate this year’s acheivements when the tournament returns to Japan in 2011.