YOKOHAMA – Corinthians defender Paulo Andre paid tribute to his team’s formidable supporters after beating Chelsea to win the Club World Cup on Sunday night, framing it as a victory for the Brazilian people over the aristocrats of European soccer.
Corinthians captured the world title with a 1-0 win over the European champions, settling the game with a 69th-minute goal from striker Paolo Guerrero to send the massed ranks of Brazilian fans dominating the 68,275 crowd at Nissan Stadium into boisterous celebrations.
Corinthians’ starting lineup cost a fraction of the price of a Chelsea side featuring the likes of Fernando Torres, Juan Mata and Eden Hazard, but Paulo Andre believes the support of the crowd gave his side an edge that the Londoners just could not live with.
“They travel all over the world to be with our team, and we were playing for them,” the 29-year-old said after Corinthians had put their name on the trophy for a second time having won the inaugural event in 2000. “This is what they ask of us. So we are happy and having fun on the pitch because we know that we have 30 million people cheering for us.
“I think it’s a real battle between the third world and the first world. In football, Brazil is five-time champion of the world, so it’s a little bit different. But for our people, for our fans who have a difficult life and everything else, it’s very important to show the world that we can beat them and we can be the best.”
Corinthians qualified for the Club World Cup having won the Copa Libertadores for the first time in July, and manager Tite was quick to thank the club for standing by him after crashing out in the qualifying round of the continental championship a year earlier.
“The club supported me in difficult moments, and I am very grateful for that,” he said. “Sometimes when a team is in a difficult situation the owners tend to change the coach, but they trusted me over a long period of time. They invested in me.
“If you are the manager for a long time, you can build a system. When a player has the ball, he knows where the other players are around him. When you have a long time you can build this kind of understanding in training.”
Chelsea’s defeat extended England’s poor record in the competition — only Manchester United has been crowned world champions in any format — but interim manager Rafael Benitez refused to look for excuses despite his team creating several scoring opportunities over the 90 minutes.
“We knew it could be a tough game against a good team,” said the Spaniard, who was taking part in his third Club World Cup final. “They had one chance and they scored. We didn’t take our chances and that was the difference.
“You have to consider the other team. They were very physical from the first minute, every challenge, every second ball. In possession they have some quality, and as soon as they scored they were keeping the ball and it was more difficult to regain.”
Chelsea’s chances of staging a late comeback were not helped by a 90th-minute red card for defender Gary Cahill after clashing with Emerson, but the England international was not impressed by his opponent’s reaction.
“I tackled the guy and we tangled legs, and he lashed out and hit me in the face,” said Cahill. “I reacted and it was not the greatest reaction. But it was two players, and I didn’t roll around like I’ve dislocated my jaw, but he’s rolling around and that’s the way it is.
“They were well organized and they had some good players. We had a few chances to put the game to bed. I don’t think we played as well as we did in the first game, but ultimately it was us that lost the game and it is the worst feeling in football.”
Chelsea defender David Luiz grew up a Corinthians fan in his native Sao Paulo state, but the 25-year-old remained philosophical in defeat.
“You can cry one night,” he said. “Tomorrow is another day.”