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With a lot of luck: Chelsea struggle into the final of the Club World Cup

Copa Libertadores winners Palmeiras have already entered the final of the Club World Cup. The second participant has been determined this Wednesday between Al-Hilal Riyadh and Chelsea. And the reigning Champions League winners did not live up to their role as favourites. Nevertheless, the Blues won the match.

Al-Shahrani had it written all over his face how all the fans, players, coach Nunes Alves Sousa Jardim and all the support staff must have felt: disappointed. For the entire first 45 minutes, the outsiders from Saudi Arabia gave Chelsea FC a great fight, hardly allowed the reigning Champions League winners any space and showed extreme doggedness in the duels.

The Saudis, led by well-known professionals such as Marega (former FC Porto), Matheus Pereira (former 1. FC Nürnberg) and striker Ighalo (ex-ManUnited), even had opportunities to score. Even though CFC keeper Kepa was never seriously tested. Nevertheless, a 0-0 draw at the break in front of a loud crowd at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi would have been well deserved, as players like Lukaku, Havertz and Ziyech were often controlled in the best possible way.

If only it hadn’t been for the 32nd minute and Al-Shahrani. The curly-head did not know how to control a harmless Havertz cross and, on top of that, involuntarily poked the ball to the lurking Lukaku. The Belgian only had to push in for the 1:0 – much to the delight of co-coach Zsolt Löw, who was actively deputising for Thomas Tuchel on the sidelines, who was absent with Corona.

Havertz fails – and Kepa saves the Blues

At the start of the second period, the favourites almost made it 2-0, but Havertz lifted the ball to the far left post from an acute angle after a great run-in (48th).

Other than that, the Blues, as reigning Champions League winners, showed too much confidence. Apart from a volley by Ziyech (a strong save by goalkeeper Al-Mayouf in the 60th minute), the Londoners did not do more than was necessary, lost balls too easily and played with fire. Especially as Al-Hilal suddenly smelt a rat, dared more and more and, in contrast to the offensively harmless first 45 minutes, also created the best chances.

The Saudis came close with a shot from Kanno (51.), before Marega appeared free in front of goalkeeper Kepa and failed with a very good effort (63.). On top of that, Kanno missed again (68th, again Kepa on the spot) – and Matheus Pereira missed a finish from a promising position (70th). At the end of the day, Chelsea managed a flattering 1:0 and entered the final of the Club World Cup in line with expectations. There, however, a clear improvement in performance will be needed against Copa Libertadores winners Palmeiras from Brazil on Saturday (5.30 p.m.) if they are to succeed reigning winners Bayern Munich.

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