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Eye of Riyadh
Eye of Riyadh
Sports | Sunday 22 December, 2019 4:00 am |
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Liverpool edges Flamengo in extra time to win Club World Cup

Roberto Firmino scored in extra time to give Liverpool a 1-0 win over Flamengo in Saturday's Club World Cup final in Doha. The Brazilian's 99th-minute goal allowed the Anfield club to lift the trophy for the first time in their history at the end of a year in which they also claimed the Champions League and UEFA Supercup.

The Brazilian saw the European champions avenge their 3-0 defeat to the Brazilians in the 1981 Intercontinental Cup to be crowned the best team on the planet in a hard-fought clash that needed two hours to separate them.

Firmino could, and probably should, have had Liverpool ahead inside the first minute. Trent Alexander-Arnold’s sensational lofted through ball got the Brazilian in behind Flamengo’s backline, only to blaze over under pressure.

After a shaky opening, Flamengo settled, with both sides well-drilled and looking to nullify the other’s greatest threats. Bruno Henrique was the one who was least contained as the Brazilian side grew into the game, with the 28-year-old a fulcrum for much of what they did to threaten the European champions.

While the game had ebbed and flowed engrossingly, once again it was Liverpool who almost started a half with a bang. For the second time it was Firmino, flicking the ball smartly over Rodrigo Caio, before volleying onto the inside of the post.

Flamengo replied, pouncing on an error by Alexander-Arnold to see Gabigol draw a low save out of Alisson. Both sides prodded and pried with the hope of teasing open a clear chance, but neither could unlock the door.

Finesse was tossed aside for brute strength when, with extra-time looming, Jordan Henderson hit a thunderous, curling drive from 25 yards, only to force a largely-unchallenged Diego Alves to pull a save out of the top drawer.

Once into the additional 30 minutes, Firmino finally broke the deadlock. A sublime pass by Henderson released Sadio Mane, who cut the ball across to his Brazilian strike partner. He coolly shimmied onto his right, leaving himself an unguarded net to fire into. It proved enough, becoming a goal that will go down in Liverpool folklore.

Earlier, Goalkeeper Luis Cardenas was the hero for Monterrey as he saved two and then scored the winning shootout spot-kick to clinch bronze for Monterrey, following a 2-2 draw against Al Hilal.

Carlos Eduardo and Bafetimbi Gomis scored either side of a quick-fire double from Monterrey, with the 4-3 win on penalties seeing the Mexicans equal their best-ever performance at the Club World Cup.

A stagnant affair in the opening stages, Al Hilal kicked things into gear on 35 minutes when captain Eduardo powered home their first attempt on goal from Yasser Alshahrani’s measured cross.

Monterrey shook things up after the break though, having rediscovered some of their drive. First, an awkward cross and some head tennis saw Arturo Gonzalez head into an open goal past a stranded Abdullah Almuaiouf.

Maxi Meza had them briefly ahead, slotting home coolly after a swift counter, but, for the second time in the tournament, Gomis performed some super-sub heroics. Eduardo’s superb cross from the left found the Frenchman to see him convert with a diving header.

The Asian Champions League MVP almost snatched bronze in normal time, seeing his swept shot deflected onto the post. The game went to penalties and saw Cardenas step up for Monterrey's fifth and final penalty, sealing a 4-3 triumph on spot-kicks.

 

Saudi Gazette

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