Five talking points as Kai Havertz makes Chelsea world champions

Kai Havertz scored a 117th-minute winner to give Chelsea the title of world champions by beating Palmeiras after extra-time in the Club World Cup final in Abu Dhabi on Saturday

Kai Havertz was the hero as Chelsea were crowned world champions after beating Palmeiras 2-1 after extra-time in the FIFA Club World Cup final.

Thomas Tuchel ‘s men completed a European clean sweep in the Abu Dhabi heat, coming out on top of an arduous affair.

Romelu Lukaku emphatically headed the Blues into the lead by converting a Callum Hudson-Odoi cross before Raphael Veiga got Abel Ferreira’s side back on level terms from the penalty spot.

Thiago Silva ‘s handball gave Palmeiras a route back into the game, as the Brazilian side had VAR to thank for intervening and helping referee Chris Beath.

But Chelsea benefitted from a VAR check themselves and Luan Garcia’s own handball saw Beath point to the spot for a second time, leaving Havertz to repeat his heroics in Europe and win them the trophy in the 117th minute.

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Lukaku gave Chelsea the lead against Palmeiras
Lukaku gave Chelsea the lead against Palmeiras
Luan was later sent off for a late-ditch tackle on Havertz, with his side putting up a valiant effort over the epic 120 minutes.

After conquering Manchester City in last season’s Champions League and getting the better of Villarreal in the UEFA Super Cup earlier this term, the Blues cemented their place as Kings of Europe and have now won every major trophy in their illustrious 117-year history, having lost to another Brazilian behemoth in Corinthians 10 years ago.

Here are five talking points from the Club World Cup final.

1. Tuchel makes Mendy decision
Ahead of kick-off, there was only one talking point from the team news.

Less than a week after helping Senegal triumph in the Africa Cup of Nations final, Edouard Mendy was back with his club and got the nod from Tuchel to replace Kepa Arrizabalaga between the posts for Chelsea.

Kepa, notably a penalty specialist, had started the semi-final win against Al Hilal on Wednesday but lost his place after Mendy was deemed ready to play.

Tuchel, who himself had only landed in Abu Dhabi just over 24 hours before the match, had been isolating following a positive Covid-19 test, and Blues technical director Petr Cech confirmed the decision was a difficult one to make.

“He [Tuchel] chose to go with Edou because he’s our number one goalkeeper,” Cech said pre-match. “He come over here a couple of days ago, has trained and is prepared and fit. It’s a decision that is hard to make but he is our number one goalkeeper so he plays the game.”

2. Mount forced off
After an end-to-end 30 minutes, Chelsea were the first team to concede – but not a goal.

Tuchel was forced to take Mason Mount off just half an hour into the tightly-fought contest, as Christian Pulisic replaced the Blues academy graduate.

There was no clear reason as to why Mount was forced off, but the 23-year-old was shaking his head in frustration as he walked off the pitch.

Pulisic entered the fray with a point to prove, having endured an up-and-down season which has seen him played in a variety of unfamiliar positions such as wing-back.

Mount was forced off through injury
Mount was forced off through injury
3. Rom rises to the occasion
For £97.5million, Chelsea fans are rightly frustrated with Lukaku’s underwhelming output since his return to Stamford Bridge last summer.

After 8 goals in 25 games, the big Belgian has shone since swapping the heat of Premier League criticism for Abu Dhabi’s hot temperatures.

Having scored the only goal in the semi-final, Lukaku continued his fine form in the Middle East by emphatically headed home Hudson-Odoi’s pinpoint delivery in the 55th minute.

His goal broke the deadlock to give Chelsea the lead and sparked a game – which until that stage had been bereft of excitement – into life.

4. Silva’s costly slip-up
Just as the Blues’ confidence and quality was beginning to come to the fore, Palmeiras were handed a lifeline when Silva’s innocuous handball while challenging for a header saw the back-to-back Copa Libertadores champions awarded a penalty after referee Beath checked the VAR monitor.

Up stepped star striker Veiga, facing Mendy, who had saved two penalties in the AFCON final penalty shoot-out last Sunday.

Viega equalised after Silva conceded a penalty
Viega equalised after Silva conceded a penalty
But the 26-year-old sent the Senegalese stopper the wrong way, leaving Silva ruing his flailing arm and gaining parity for Palmeiras to send their supporters into pandemonium.

Veiga scored the opener and registered an assist in their semi-final clash with Al Ahly on Tuesday and struck again when it counted after causing Tuchel’s side plenty of problems prior to his goal.

5. Hero Havertz
After both goalscorers were surprisingly substituted by their respective managers, the closing stages of normal time petered out and extra-time loomed.

Havertz scored the winning goal from the penalty spot
Havertz scored the winning goal from the penalty spot
Pulisic bundled an effort onto the crossbar in the 99th minute and the two teams were locked in a battle of who could look the least sluggish.

But late in the second half of extra-time, Luan gave away a penalty with his hand and Havertz put the ball down with the memory of last year’s Champions League final undoubtedly in his head, having scored the famous winner for Chelsea against City in Porto.

The 22-year-old had ice in his veins and tucked home, sending Palmeiras’ defiant goalkeeper, Weverton, in the opposite direction as he secured the Blues the title of world champions.

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