x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Internacional shine too late for third place in CWC

Flashes of tactical brilliance, some clinical finishing, an easy victory – it was all there but unfortunately it came for them in the third place finish match.

Internacional’s Kleber, left, takes the ball away from Seongnam’s Jo Jae-cheol last night.
Internacional’s Kleber, left, takes the ball away from Seongnam’s Jo Jae-cheol last night.

ABU DHABI // This was the result expected of South America's champions back in the semi-final. Flashes of tactical brilliance, some clinical finishing, an easy victory.

Unfortunately for Internacional, they waited until the third-place match of the Club World Cup to achieve it.

Alecsandro scored twice for the Brazilians, Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma played nearly an hour with 10 men and the scoreline was, in fact, flattering to the champions of Asia, who fell behind 4-0 before scoring twice in the dying minutes.

Celso Roth, Internacional's manager, suggested his side could have scored 10 and no one who saw the match is likely to disagree.

"This is the level Internacional are used to playing," Roth said. "Had we converted our chances in the semi-final, we would have played in the final. But that's football. The expectations for us were high and, unfortunately, the confidence of our players was damaged by the pressure."

Internacional lost 2-0 to TP Mazembe of Africa in the semi-final, setting up the first Club World Cup final without a South American side in it.

Shin Tae-yong, the Seongnam coach, rued the performance of his reconstituted defence, which broke down repeatedly without the settling presence of the Australian central defender Sasa Ognenovski, the Asian Player of the Year, who was suspended for the match.

Overanxious and outmatched for pace, the Seongnam back four veered between naivety and overly rash challenges, and it was two of the latter that led to a red card.

The dominant presence in the match was Andres D'Alessandro, Internacional's Argentine midfielder. He set up two goals and scored a third.

The first 45 minutes were a disaster for Seongnam: the red card, the substitute forward Dzenan Radonic lasting only 15 minutes before leaving the game with a leg injury and two goals conceded. The first came after an almost comic display by Seongnam from a throw in just past midfield.

The defenders Yun Young-sun and Hong Chul bundled into each other while trying to get in front of Alecsandro, and as they tumbled to the ground the Brazilian striker found himself as alone as a man can be with the ball at his feet in a football stadium.

He calmly dribbled towards the goal and when he finally attracted some attention, he slid the ball over to Tinga, who had sprinted into the area, and the midfielder stooped to head it home.

Twelve minutes later, Seongnam gave away the ball in their own half. The ball eventually came to D'Alessandro and he set up Alecsandro, who had all the time in the world to put the ball in the top-left corner from just inside the box.

What little chance Seongnam had of making a game of it was deeply compromised in the 33rd minute when the defender Jang Suk-won stepped in front of a sprinting Tinga, earning his second yellow card and reducing the Koreans to 10 men.

The game got out of hand in the second period. D'Alessandro netted a third from distance off the inside of the far post to make it 3-0, and Alecsandro tapped in a cross in the 71st minute. He was probably offside, but by then no one seemed to care.

Molina, easily Seongnam's best player last night, kept the Korean side from matching the worst defeat in tournament history, a 4-0 loss by the Mexicans Club America to Barcelona in 2006.

He chipped a shot past Roberto Abbondanzieri, the substitute goalkeeper, in the 84th minute and beat him again in injury time as the Internacional defence switched off. Molina also scored against Al Wahda and left Abu Dhabi as the tournament's top scorer, with three goals.