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Brilliant Barca clinch Club World Cup

Imperious Barcelona were crowned Club World Cup champions in style in Yokohama, adding the world title to their Spanish and European honours as they cruised to a 4-0 victory over Santos.

Lionel Messi opened the scoring for the Catalans, before Xavi and Cesc Fabregas added their names to the scoresheet in a completely one-sided first half. Santos showed more after the break, but never looked likely to make their way back into a game they surrendered in the first 45 minutes. Messi put the icing on the cake with a late strike, to put the result beyond any doubt.

The opening exchanges of the match passed in a predictable fashion. Santos started with a five man defence and the intention of not conceding an early goal, and their deep back line allowed Barca to dominate possession. The Brazilians looked strong, however, and the Catalans were allowed limited glimpses of goalkeeper Rafael in the first 15 minutes.

The shot-stopper showed his talents, though, with an impressive double save. Messi was the first to unlock the Santos defence with a typical mazy run, and his long-range shot was parried by Rafael who was quickly up to deny Thiago with the rebound. Ganso, meanwhile, had an early effort for the Peixe, but his left-foot effort from outside the box fizzed wide of Victor Valdes’ left post.

It was to be the Catalans who took the lead, however, as Messi once more showed why he is considered the best player on the planet. The Argentine picked up a wonderful ball from Xavi and delicately flicked the ball over Rafael’s head. Bruno Rodrigo’s despairing dive could not deny a beautifully-worked opener for the Blaugrana.

After just 22 minutes, the score was 2-0. Santos failed to cut out a crossfield ball, and Xavi found it all too easy to storm through the middle and slide the ball past the keeper. Borges then called Valdes into action with a decent effort on the right, but it could so easily have been three within the first half-hour if Fabregas’ close-range shot had not found the post.

Minutes before the half-time break, Barcelona gave another demonstration of their complete control. Dani Alves’ cross was palmed by Rafael and the ball pinged across the box, before Fabregas stepped up to fire home and notch the side’s third of a one-sided 45 minutes.

The second period was not even one minute old before Barca threatened a fourth. An awful mistake by Edu Dracena led to Messi charging into the area, and the Argentine laid off to Fabregas, who was denied by a fingertip save from Rafael. Neymar then showed the first signs of attacking danger; a header floated over the crossbar, before a decent run ended in his shot being saved by the impeccable Valdes.

Santos showed more in the second half, taking advantage of an opponent who had slowed down from an impressive showing early on to enjoy a little more possession. An intricate exchange between Neymar and Ganso was a highlight for the Brazilians, but there was no sign that Barca’s imposing three-goal lead was in danger as they cruised towards the Club World Cup title.

There was to be a final flourish for Barcelona. Messi was played in by Dani Alves free on the edge of the box, and the Ballon d’Or winner skipped past Rafael to slide the ball home and extend the scoreline to 4-0 with less than 10 minutes remaining.

Pep Guardiola’s side lift their second Club World Cup title, after the 2009 triumph over Argentine side Estudiantes. They also secured a quadruple for 2011, adding the trophy to Champions League, La Liga and Supercopa triumphs over the course of the year.