Abu Dhabi: Lionel Messi 'chested' home a 110th minute goal that ended an agonising wait for European club champions Barcelona to claim the Fifa Club World Cup and register a historic sixth title-triumph for 2009.
After conceding a 37th minute goal to Estudiantes de La Plata, Barcelona were saved by an 89th minute goal from Pedro and Messi, who did not have a good game then came up with the match-winner to end a gutsy display from his countrymen.
The 2-1 win earned Barcelona $5 million, the tag of World Club champions and completed a historic year when they won six trophies under Pep Guardiola.
A jam-packed Zayed Sports City Stadium enjoyed every minute of the 120-minute encounter and eventually it was the class of the favourites that saw them through.
Messi, Henry, Seydou Keita and Gerard Pique were the four new starters from the team that played in the semis while Alejandro Sabella stuck to the same XI who started against Pohang Steelers.
Both sides started cautiously and it was Barca as expected who made the first purposeful foray but Xavi’s cross had no takers though the midfielder could have had a crack at goal himself.
Barca kept piling the pressure but seemed to be distracted by a couple of incidents and Estudiantes punished them in the 37th minute with a classy goal from Mauro Boselli.
Messi was shown a yellow card for diving by referee Benito Archunida and a little later the Mexican official was again in action. This time Xavi charged into the box and with Damian Albil charging out the Spanish midfielder went down and appealed for a penalty which was turned down.
Sabella, in the meanwhile, was urging his players to play the long ball and it was a cross from Enzo Perez which earned them the goal. Barca skipper Carlos Puyol and Eric Abidal went for the aerial ball but Boselli timed his jump to perfection and squeezed his header between the two Barca defenders and past a stunned Victor Valdes in goal.
Barca continued to attack and their rivals soaked in the pressure and launched counter-attacks which always had Veron as the pivot.
Henry, who did not see much of the ball while Messi was equally bottled up, Barca could only end the first half in deficit.
Guardiola reinforced his attack after the break with Pedro replacing Keita and Barca launched a series of attacks all from the left flank. Ibrahimovic, who in the absence of Andreas Iniesta was working overtime, first saw his shot just missing the far post, then shot into Albil and soon his cross was met a bit late by an over-lapping Alves. Meanwhile, Henry also had a crack and then his beautiful cross curved in front of Albil but Sergio Busquets also was beaten, losing another good chance.
With Veron controlling and trying to slow the game down, Barca began to get a bit more desperate. A few tough tackles from the Estudiantes’ players also put a spoke in their passing game.
Pedro did well to break into the box but he delayed and messed up and the chanting from the Argentine supporters grew louder and louder. But it was Barca again in action and this time Albil did well to keep out a shot from Pique.
Sabella replaced two-goal hero Leandro Benitez with Matias Sanchez and with about 12 minutes left Ibrahimovic’s header was way off target and Barca’s desperation became evident when Henry was shown the card for diving just outside the box.
Guardiola pressed in Yaya Toure and Jefferson for Busquets and Henry but it was Pedro, the only player to score in all tournaments that Barca played this year, who rescued them with his 89th minute header and push the final into extra time.
Messi should have given Barca the lead but he wasted a good pass from Ibrahimovic in the first half of extra time. However, the little maestro delivered the killer punch in the 110th minute and Barcelona managed to lay their hands on the one trophy that was missing from their glittering collection.
Fifa Club World Cup Awards:
Golden Ball: Lionel Messi of Barcelona
Silver Ball: Juan Veron of Estudiantes
Bronze Ball: Xavi of Barcelona
Fair Play Award: Atlante of Mexico
- Winners: FC Barcelona, Spain
- Runners-up: Estudiantes de La Plata, Argentina
- Third: Pohang Steelers, South Korea
- Fourth: Atlante, Mexico
- Fifth: Auckland City FC, New Zealand
- Sixth: TP mazembe, Republic of Congo
- Seventh: Al Ahli, Dubai, UAE
Denilson of Pohang Steelers (Four goals)
Does this win further cement Barcelona's status as the best club in the world? If not Barcelona, which club do you think has the best team? Tell us by clicking on the 'Post a Comment' link below.