South America’s grip on the Club World Cup tournament was broken in the revamped competition’s third edition on Sunday, with European champions A.C. Milan running out 4-2 winners over Boca in easily the most entertaining final since the tournament was re-launched in 2005.
Unlike both 2005 and 2006 – which saw the European participants dominate but lose out to solitary goals to Brazil’s Sao Paulo and Internacional, respectively – it was a relatively even affair this time round, Boca managing more shots on goal than Milan and the exactly half of the possession, but losing out thanks in no small part to the performance of Kaká – who confirmed Diego Maradona’s pre-match fears by deciding the game.
After Boca pressured right from the off, causing some hairy moments in the ageing Milan backline, it was the Italians who broke the deadlock on 21 minutes, Kaká driving forward and seeing a shot blocked before squaring the rebound to Filippo Inzaghi to slot home. Boca equalised almost immediately, Rodrigo Palacio heading in a cross from Morel Rodríguez after a short corner.
After that equaliser, Boca relaxed a lot and although no further goals came before the break, the nerves looked less present and they certainly didn’t look out of place against the European millionaires. In the second half, Kaká was inspired and Alessandro Nesta put Milan back into the lead with a brilliant volley, before Hugo Ibarra hit the post with a long-range shot which would have pulled it back to 2-2. Then came two decisive interventions from Kaká in the space of ten minutes, first grabbing a goal from himself after a good solo run, then laying on a second for Inzaghi to make it 4-1. With five minutes remaining, Boca got a consolation when a shot from Pablo Ledesma hit Massimo Ambrosini and bounced past Dida into the Milan net, but the match was really over bar the red cards – one for each side, Kakha Kaladze sent off for Milan after a hard challenge on Boca sub Leandro Gracián, who’d come on for Neri Cardozo. Two minutes before the end Ledesma was perhaps a little harshly sent off for a foul on Kaká.
The world, however, belongs to Milan, who as well as being crowned the new world champions also take Boca’s self-appointed title of ‘King of Cups’, claiming an 18th international honour to overtake Boca’s 17.
The fate of Boca manager Miguel Angel Russo remains uncertain – having suggested numerous times before the tournament that, if he failed to win it, he’d resign, his only comment on the matter after the match ‘We’ll see, we’ll see…’ and there has, as yet, been no word from Boca officials.
For highlights of the match through FIFA’s website, click here.