Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl) Mon 17 December 2007
FIFA World Club Cup 2007 - Update 2
First of all, an apology to all of you who were hoping to get the latest update on the remaining games of the 2007 World Club Cup before now.
Without wishing to bore you with details about my personal life, my house unfortunately ended up half-flooded by a burst water pipe towards the end of last week, thereby leaving it without an electricity supply for a considerable time. Fortunately for me, my extremely efficient co-blogger Smart has been more than capably keeping you entertained while power was restored to my home, so now that's been fixed, let me belatedly fill you in on all the news.
Oh and before I carry on, I'd like to dedicate this post to P Shaw. Thank you...
Semi Finals Etoile Sportive du Sahel 0-1 Boca Juniors December 12 2007 It was a case of 'Enter the Giants' as the semi-finals welcomed the arrival of AC Milan and first, Boca Juniors whose first game was against the challengers from Tunisia, Etiole du Sahel.
The CAF representatives enjoyed an equal share of the early play in the first half but suffered a hammer blow when Neri Cardozo smashed in a left-footed shot from close range in the 37th minute to put Boca 1-0 up.
Sahel came out fighting and put together a number of chances that came close to bringing them an equaliser, including an Amine Chermiti effort which was comfortably saved by Mauricio Caranta in the Boca goal. Then in the 65th minute, Fabian Vargas was sent off for his second bookable offence which gave the Africans hope of cashing in on their numerical advantage.
If anything, it made the Argentineans all the stronger both in defence and attack as some of the closing exchanges resulted in Palacio grazing the crossbar with one shot and Palermo heading just wide of the post too.
Finally at the death, a scare for Boca as Sahel substitute Gilson Silva hit the post with a close-range header. It was to be the final act in a tense match for both sides, but it was Boca Juniors, somewhat predictably, that earned their place in the Final while Etoile du Sahel exited the competition with rather more respect than they arrived with.
Urawa Red Diamonds 0-1 AC Milan December 13 2007 Urawa were unquestionably spurred on by what was virtually home support in this semi, as Urawa played out an unexciting first half that ended goalless against the European champions. That's not to say it was entirely lacking in notable incident - Ambrosini managed to get in a header that just skimmed the crossbar - but it would be the second half that was all the more entertaining for the fans.
AC Milan came out looking like they wanted the win more, Clarence Seedorf quickly getting a couple of straight-forward chances which were squandered, but in the 68th minute it all came right for the Italian club.
Kaka took the ball down the left, beat his man, reached the byline and put in a cross which he Seedord lashed home after taking a moment to control the ball first. 1-0 to Milan.
It was somewhat ironic that the balance of power should swing their way as only minutes before Nesta had almost scored an own-goal and Washington had had his shot saved by Dida. Once the goal was scored, though, there was no way back for Urawa and the game ended in a single goal victory for Carlo Ancelotti's men.
Final December 16 2007 Boca Juniors 2-4 AC Milan After an exciting 3rd/4th Place Play-off that saw Urawa Red Diamonds win 4-2 on penalties after a 2-2 draw, the Final had much to do to if it was to go one better for entertainment value. Fortunately it didn't disappoint.
As everyone in the entire known universe had predicted from the start (even FIFA if they're honest with us), it was yet another match up between the champions of Europe and South America in the final match. What wasn't certain was whether a European club would win for a change.
In the end, the Argentineans fate would be undone by a Brazilian - namely Kaka of AC Milan. It was his surging run and shot mid-way through the first half that brought about a chance for Filippo Inzaghi to open the scoring, although the Italians didn't hold the lead for long.
Direct from the kick-off, Boca Juniors quickly went on the attack once more and within seconds it was Rodrigo Palacio who headed the ball in to make it 1-1.
Into the second half and Milan came straight back at Boca, Alessandro Nesta hitting a tremendous volley to restore their lead while Kaka was causing much concern among the opposition with numerous threatening runs.
At the other end, Hugo Ibarra came close to equalising with a long-range shot that hit the post, but it was Kaka once again who was next to get on the scoresheet with a shot scored from a narrow angle at the end of another one of those surging runs.
A candidate for 'Man of the Match', Kaka completed an impressive performance by setting up Inzaghi with his second of the game (Milan's fourth) ten minutes later. Pablo Ledesma got a second for Boca Juniors with five minutes remaining, but there was to be only one winner in this game, and just for once, they were European.
AC Milan are the new World Club Cup champions, and from the evidence seen in this match, it's deservedly so.