YOKOHAMA, JAPAN // Chelsea added global humiliation to their European embarrassment on Sunday as they became the first Champions League holders to fail to win the Club World Cup since 2006.
A week and a half after making the wrong sort of history by crashing out of the competition that means the most to them, Chelsea were at it again in Japan as they surrendered a trophy for the fourth time already this season.
Despite being strong favourites to beat Corinthians, they were outplayed and outfought by the South American champions, who sealed a 1-0 victory through Paolo Guerrero in front of a partisan crowd of supporters.
The South Americans swarmed their opponents from start to finish.
"This is the final of the World Cup for the South American teams," said Rafael Benitez, the Chelsea interim coach. "You could see this from the first minute. Our players have some quality but, physically, some of them aren't so strong."
Some of Corinthians' players also worked hard at trying to influence the referee; forward Emerson repeatedly rolled around the floor under contact.
"You could see they have experience and, every second, they were around the referee and doing well - and wasting [time] round near the end," Benitez said. "I don't say that as a negative. They were managing the game quite well."
Emerson was also at the centre of Gary Cahill's late sending off, which Benitez conceded might have been justified after his defender lashed out.
"He lost his temper," Benitez said. "I didn't see it in the game, but I've seen it on the replay and it could be a red card."
Fernando Torres had a chance to take the game to extra time, as Didier Drogba managed in the Champions League final, but the Spaniard missed a sitter and saw a stoppage-time header ruled out for offside after Cahill was sent off.
It all added to the feeling that Chelsea's £80 million (Dh473.7m) summer overhaul has left them with a team of also-rans, with Benitez unable to instil a winning mentality.
Before the match, the defender Branislav Ivanovic claimed it could be the defining game for the current generation, but it was their opponents who were the history boys; their tens of thousands of fans took their seats in the Nissan Stadium early.
"We played a high-quality match," said Tite, the Corinthians coach, who also has managed Al Wahda and Al Ain in the Pro League. "Everything went well. Each player performed their own role and were able to do well in their position. I'm very happy."
Corinthians fans gradually cranked up the volume and unfurled a succession of supportive banners in scenes similar to those Chelsea faced before the Champions League final at Munich.
That resulted in the fewest jeers and protest placards of Benitez's short reign but the defeat will surely only strengthen the ill-feeling towards him.
Corinthians outworked Chelsea from the first whistle but there was encouragement for Benitez's men when a goalmouth scramble from a corner saw Cahill narrowly fail to stab the ball past Cassio in what came close to being arguably the first high-profile test of goal-line technology.
David Luiz, restored to centre-half, did well to outfox Emerson after Juan Mata uncharacteristically passed straight to the forward, Corinthians being given too much space in midfield.
David Luiz came to the rescue again after wasting a free kick from which the Brazilians broke, while Guerrero appealed in vain for a penalty. Cahill then got away with a major error just before the half-hour mark as Emerson panicked after the defender's slip and blazed one over the bar. Torres had offered little threat but that almost changed spectacularly eight minutes from the break when he superbly brought down Frank Lampard's ball over the top only to stab it straight to the goalkeeper.
Benitez rued his side's missed opportunities.
"We knew it would be a tough game against a good team," he said. "I think they had one chance and they scored, and we didn't take our chances.
"That was the difference."
Monterrey of Mexico won the third-place game, defeating Al Ahly of Egypt 2-0.
2006 Internacional 1-0 Barcelona
2007 AC Milan 4-2 Boca Juniors
2008 Manchester United 1-0 LDU Quito
2009 Barcelona 2-1 Estudiantes
2010 Inter Milan 3-0 TP Mazembe
2011 Barcelona 4-0 Santos
2012 Corinthians 1-0 Chelsea
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