“I thought the ball was going in and I was ready to run off and celebrate. But he’s a tall keeper, he went full-stretch and pulled off a fantastic save.” These were the words of Chelsea’s Nigeria international Victor Moses, describing his dart into the box from the left-hand side and subsequent deft curling shot, which was headed for the corner of the net before the intervention of Corinthians’ custodian Cassio.
“I couldn’t believe it. He had a really great day and made some good saves,” added the Blues’ attacker to FIFA.com. And that was indeed the case. In pulling off a string of important stops, O Timão’s man between the sticks put in an unforgettable performance, a ‘thou shalt not pass’ display that played a significant role in his club’s second FIFA Club World Cup title.
“I think that yes, it was the best game I’ve played,” said Cassio, also awarded the adidas Golden Ball as the competition’s best player, when interviewed by FIFA.com. “I managed to do my bit for my club in a very important game, to help us win a very valuable trophy. That makes me very happy.”
For the player, who hails from Veranopolis in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, his save from Moses on 35 minutes was the most difficult of the many he had to make during the game, particularly as he was unsighted as the shot came in. “There were players blocking my line of sight and I didn’t see him get the shot away,” revealed Cassio.
“It’s always hard for a keeper when that happens, because you can end up diving too late. But I was able to use my height and reach to make the save. I managed to tip the ball away at the very last second, which was when I knew I'd averted the danger,” added Corinthian’s No12.
Nor was Moses’ effort the first time a Chelsea player thought they had beaten the imposing shotstopper, only to be denied by a matter of inches. After 11 minutes, centre-back Gary Cahill fired in a firm, low shot that Cassio somehow gathered almost on the line. “I thought the ball had gone in then,” said the Blues’ Brazilian midfielder Ramires to FIFA.com. “But the keeper dived right on top of it.”
Curiously, however, even after a display that also included denying Fernando Torres twice in one-on-one situations, Cassio claimed to have been taken by surprise by being chosen as the player of the tournament. “I was so pumped up and focused on the game, that I couldn’t even think about being chosen as the best player or anything like that,” he explained.
“You don’t think about it at the time. I wasn’t expecting it, but it was a very nice surprise. It’s really difficult for a keeper to be voted as the best player. It’s almost always the striker who scores the winner, or a midfielder, that’s more common. It’s always harder for a goalkeeper to win the award for the competition’s best player.”
Yet despite being subject to a busy game, the final of Japan 2012 was certainly not all one-way traffic, with Corinthians attempting to go toe-to-toe with the UEFA Champions League holders.
“Today we proved what Corinthians are about, didn’t we?” said Cassio, as the conversation concluded. “We came here to show our football, and we managed to play our own way. I think that we put our stamp on the game throughout. We never stopped trying to score, we didn’t just sit back. We showed our true colours.”