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Havertz strikes late to hand Chelsea FIFA Club World Cup title

Blues defeat 10-man Palmeiras in final

German forward Kai Havertz was the hero as Chelsea edged Palmeiras 2-1 to claim the title after the FIFA Club World Cup final at the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

Chelsea and Palmeiras were to face each other for the first time in their history after they came through their respective semifinals against Al Hilal and Al Ahly, respectively.

The European champions set the tempo early on, dominating possession and controlling the game against the Copa Libertadores champions, whose tactic was to sit back and hit Chelsea on the break.

Chelsea struggled to break down the Brazilian side who were intent on frustrating them. Both sides fashioned a number of half chances in the first half, but were unable to really test Edouard Mendy and Weverton in either goal as the first half of the FIFA Club World Cup final flew by.

The Champions of Europe eventually broke the deadlock through club record signing Romelu Lukaku ten minutes into the second half. A brilliant cross from Callum Hudson-Odoi was emphatically met by the head of Lukaku, who scored his second goal in as many games after failing to score in any of his previous five appearances. It was the Belgian striker’s 10th goal of what has been a topsy-turvy season so far.

Chelsea’s lead did not last long as Palmeiras were gifted a way back into the game less than ten minutes after Chelsea opened the scoring.

Veteran defender Thiago Silva left a flailing arm in the air as he challenged for an aerial ball in Chelsea’s box, and the ball struck his arm. The referee briefly consulted the VAR before pointing to the spot.

Brazilian forward Raphael Veiga stepped up to send AFCON hero Mendy the wrong way from the spot and draw Palmeiras level in the FIFA Club World Cup final.

The goal gave the Brazilians belief, and they looked to pile the pressure on the European champions, who looked rattled after the equaliser. Neither side managed to score a goal in what was left of normal time, causing the game to go into 30 minutes of extra time.

With the end of the 30 minutes looming, Chelsea struck a decisive blow through German forward Havertz in the 117th minute.

A volley from Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta struck the outstretched arm of Palmeiras defender Luan, and the referee awarded a penalty to Chelsea.

Havertz stepped up and sent Weverton the wrong way with a brilliant penalty following a stuttered run-up, sending Chelsea fans and officials into raptures.

Palmeiras finished the match with ten men after the unlucky Luan cleaned Havertz out as the German forward bore down on goal.

Chelsea held on for a famous victory that gave them a first ever FIFA Club World Cup title, making them one of only five clubs to win every major title available.

37-year-old Brazilian defender Thiago Silva was named the Player of the Tournament after his stellar performances for Chelsea.

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