YOKOHAMA – European champions Chelsea cruised into a Club World Cup final showdown against Corinthians after beating Mexico’s Monterrey 3-1 in their semifinal on Thursday night.
Juan Mata opened the scoring for Chelsea midway through the first half at a far-from-sold-out Nissan Stadium, before a deflected Fernando Torres shot and a Darvin Chavez own goal in quick succession gave the Londoners breathing space immediately after the restart.
Aldo de Nigris managed to pull one back for Monterrey in injury time, but it was far too late to prevent Chelsea from moving into Sunday’s final against South American champions Corinthians.
“I’m so glad,” said Mata. “I’m happy with the win and the way we won. For us it’s a very important tournament. We want to win this trophy and become world champions on Sunday. We will try our best to win it.
“I’m very happy with my goal and with the start of the second half. I thought we started very well and then did it with Fernando. Three-one is a good result for us and we are waiting for Sunday.”
Chelsea lined up with regular center back David Luiz in an unfamiliar midfield role, and the Brazilian was involved right from the start as he shot over the bar before setting up Eden Hazard with a chance that the Belgian should have buried.
Chelsea’s early pressure gradually dissipated as Monterrey began to get to grips with the game, but Mata’s opener in the 17th minute soon took the wind out of the Mexicans’ sails. Ashley Cole and Oscar combined to slice Monterrey open down the left side, and Mata was on hand to provide a deft finishing touch.
De Nigris almost snatched one back for Monterrey against the run of play in the 28th minute, and the Mexicans had more chances to level the scores with a spell of pressure leading into halftime.
Their failure to convert them, however, would prove costly, with Chelsea moving out of sight with a two-goal salvo just minutes after the restart.
First Torres finished off a darting raid from Hazard, firing home with a heavy deflection that wrong-footed Monterrey goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco. Then Chavez had the misfortune to put through his own net, misdirecting Mata’s driven ball after more good work on the left from Torres.
De Nigris fired over the bar as Monterrey chased what had clearly become a lost cause, but the striker did give his side the consolation of getting on the scoresheet with an angled shot in the final minute.
“We have confidence,” said Mata. “But we know that Corinthians are a very good team and one of the best in South America. They have a lot of supporters here but so do we. It will be a football party and hopefully we will win.”