Luis Cardenas was all smiles at the final whistle, and not without good reason. After all, it is not every day that you save two penalties in a shootout and score the fifth and decisive penalty to secure third place for your team at the FIFA Club World Cup™. The keeper fully deserved his Alibaba Cloud Match Award.
On his way back to the changing room, Rogelio Funes Mori patted his team-mate on the back and gave him a cheer. Cardenas laughed in appreciation.
His first save in the shootout came at the expense of Al Hilal captain Carlos Eduardo. He then guessed right when Mohamed Kanno stepped up to the spot, diving to his left to pull off a smart one-handed stop. As if that were not enough, he then dusted himself down to score the winning penalty. “Yes, I usually take them,” he told FIFA.com. “I like it!”
Judging by his match-winning effort at the Khalifa International Stadium, Cardenas is an accomplished penalty-taker too. In sending his opposite number the wrong way, he ensured that Los Rayados matched their best ever Club World Cup finish: third place at Japan 2012.
“This bronze medal is very important for all of us,” said Cardenas. “It was one of our objectives, above all else: to make the podium. Now we’ve got third place and we can enjoy it and go back to Mexico and get ready for the final.” The final in question is the two-legged Mexican league decider between Los Rayados and America. “What a season!” added an exultant Cardenas.
Usually behind experienced Argentinian Marcelo Barovero in the pecking order, the keeper made the most of coach Antonio Mohamed’s decision to rest most of his first-choice players, showing exactly what he is capable of. “Barovero is very important,” explained Cardenas. “We know what he’s achieved in his career and you have to learn as much as you can from him. He has a lot of experience and you have to make the most of that.”
A runner-up in the competition with River Plate at Japan 2015, Barovero was no doubt proud of his fellow keeper. So was another old hand, team captain Jose Basanta, a veteran of all four Club World Cups that Monterrey have appeared in and a starter against Al Hilal on Saturday. “Cardenas did well!” said the skipper. “He had the chance to finish on a high and he took it. He deserves it.”
In journeying back home with the bronze, Cardenas and his team-mates can take satisfaction from the fact that they have done their job and that Qatar 2019 has now gone down in Rayados history.