Chelsea’s attacking midfield triumvirate of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Juan Mata sparkled as the Champions League holders coasted to a 3-1 victory over Monterrey during their Club World Cup semi-final at the International Stadium in Yokohama.
A well-taken first-half finish from Mata gave the Blues the lead, before a deflected Fernando Torres strike and an own goal from Darvin Chavez promptly after half-time helped see off the challenge of the CONCACAF champions, although Aldo De Nigris did score a superb consolation late on for the Mexican side.
A bright start from the west London side was rewarded in the 17th minute when Mata opened the scoring in style with a sweeping finish after an intricate passing move involving Ashley Cole and Oscar on the left-hand side.
The Blues had come close to taking the lead on three occasions prior to the former Valencia man breaking the deadlock, with David Luiz, Hazard and Branislav Ivanovic all threatening.
Luiz in particular impressed for Chelsea, the Brazil international looking comfortable playing in an unfamiliar midfield role in the absence of Oriol Romeu, after the Masia graduate suffered knee ligament damage against Sunderland on Saturday.
Monterrey grew into the game after going behind, with Jesus Corona’s pace and trickery posing Cesar Azpilicueta problems down the left, and, but for some wasteful finishing from Aldo De Nigris, the Mexican side could well have equalised before the break.
Whatever Benitez said to his side during the interval seemed to do the trick however, as they came racing out of the blocks, scoring twice before the second half was five minutes old.
Twenty seconds after the restart Torres made it 2-0, following a blistering run and pass from Hazard down the left. The striker’s shot appeared to be going way off target before it took a considerable deflection and flew into the back of the net.
Chelsea then added a third just moments later courtesy of an own goal from Darvin Chavez. The former Atletico Madrid forward was involved once more, providing an enticing through ball that set up Mata, who then looked to pass to Oscar before the intervention of Chavez did the youngster’s work for him by diverting the ball past Jonathan Orozco.
The two goals in quick succession appeared to have knocked the wind out of Monterrey’s sails, but De Nigris smashed home a consolation goal in added time at the end of the second half to make it 3-1.
Benitez now has a chance to equal Pep Guardiola’s achievement by winning a second Club World Cup when Chelsea take on Corinthians in the final on December 16, having won the tournament with Inter back in 2010.
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