Sir Alex Ferguson was convinced Manchester United were heading for a draining half hour of extra-time before Wayne Rooney popped up to put them on top of the world.
United were always in charge of their clash with LDU Quito in Yokohama but once Nemanja Vidic had been sent-off four minutes into the second-half, Ferguson’s side had to adopt a more cautious approach against the South Americans.
And, with 16 minutes to go, the Scot thought an additional half hour was a certainty.
"I definitely felt we were heading for extra-time," admitted Ferguson.
"Another half an hour with 10 men would have been a long road and if we had conceded we would have lost.
"But we did still try to win, which is a measure of the ambitious players we have and our collective spirit came through in the end."
Rooney’s match-winner capped a superb few days for the England international, who was deservedly crowned player of the tournament.
"He was man of the match, no question," said Ferguson. "He deserved it and was unlucky not to score two or three.
"It was a magnificent goal. I have seen him do that quite a lot. It was just another example of the ability he has."
"We should be proud of what we have all done here," said Ferguson.