Despite a glowing winter sun, there was a real chill in the air as the fans took their places at Yokohama's International Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The good news was that temperatures were predicted to rise as the last day of action unfolded at the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2007.
By the time Urawa Red Diamonds and Etoile Sportive du Sahel emerged to contest the match for third place, the weather had indeed improved slightly. As for the game itself, the home side received warm encouragement from their exuberant supporters as they took on the African champions.
The two sides played out an open encounter that could have swung either way and eventually finished 2-2, and it was the Reds who emerged victorious 4-2 on penalties.
That represented the best ever placing for an Asian team in the competition and, having scored twice, Urawa's Brazilian striker Washington could bid farewell to the Land of the Rising Sun with the feeling that his work was done.
"We're pleased, it's the best result
we could have hoped for," he explained after the match.
"Of course we dreamed of lifting the trophy in front of our
fans, but it makes sense that Milan and Boca made it to the final.
"It makes me happy to say goodbye to Urawa's extraordinary supporters with this brace. That's what I hoped for and I'm very emotional this evening. I'd like to thank everyone and I'll never forget the people of Urawa." His parting homage was worthy of the FIFA Fair Play award itself, which appropriately enough went to the Japanese side.
Milan and Kaka on top of the world
There was not a free seat to be had as the closing ceremony then thrilled the crowd ahead of the main event. At the same time, banners honouring Milan and Boca Juniors were unfurled with pride while those praising Urawa and Etoile were taken down.
The final itself had been billed as a rematch of the 2003 Intercontinental (Toyota) Cup, so it was supremely fitting that the two rivals were locked at a goal apiece at half-time. Four years ago, Matias Donnet had levelled after Jon Dahl Tomasson put the Italians in front, and this time Filippo Inzaghi struck first on 21 minutes, only for Rodrigo Palacio to respond two minutes later.
The comparisons ended there, however, and Milan were simply too strong for the Xeneizesafter the restart. Alessandro Nesta, Kaka and Inzaghi all found the back of the net in the second half to give the Rossoneria 4-2 victory, the heaviest in FIFA Club World Cup final history.
The Japanese night began to fill with the chants of the Milanese tifosi, but for Kaka there was more success to come. Having helped his team lift the trophy, the Brazilian playmaker was awarded the tournament's Golden Ball, beating team-mate Clarence Seedorf and Boca's Palacio to the honour. There could have been no better way to underline Milan's dominance in the competition.