Liverpool clinch Club World Cup for third trophy of 2019
|(Roberto Firmino 99, after extra time)|
Roberto Firmino clinched Liverpool’s first Club World Cup title on Sunday morning (Dec 22, Singapore time), scoring in extra time to seal a 1-0 victory in the final over Flamengo to assert Europe’s footballing dominance over South America.
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson’s defence-splitting pass picked out Sadio Mane who squared for Firmino to net in the 99th minute and become Liverpool’s saviour again in the Qatari capital for the second time in three days.
The Brazilian forward also struck in the semi-final victory over Monterrey, giving him two goals in as many games in the 2022 World Cup test-event tournament, having netted only once in the previous 16 games for Liverpool in all competitions.
Unlike on Wednesday, when Firmino scored in stoppage time, Liverpool were denied a chance for a 90th-minute winner against Flamengo when a decision to award a penalty was overturned in a moment of confusion.
Qatari Abdulrahman Al Jassim pointed to the spot when Rafinha clipped Mane’s heel before going over to reassess the incident on the touchline monitor. Flamengo fans who dominated the 45,000-crowd at Khalifa Stadium were delirious when the internationally inexperienced referee determined the incident had happened outside the penalty area.
The reprieve was only brief as Firmino allowed Liverpool to avenge the loss to Flamengo in the 1981 single-game version of this competition.
Liverpool added the world title to their sixth European Cup collected in June to qualify for the Club World Cup. Two months later, they lifted the Uefa Super Cup by beating Chelsea.
A continent away back in England, Liverpool’s pursuit of the EPL was aided by second-placed Leicester City losing 3-1 to Manchester City in a match that took place at the same time.
An English title drought stretching back to 1990 for the 18-time English champions is well-placed to end with Liverpool holding a 10-point lead over Leicester ahead of Thursday’s game at the second-place rival.
While Liverpool’s year is ending on a high, a 2019 of tragedy and triumph ends on a low on the field for Flamengo.
A first Copa Libertadores title since 1981 followed a domestic title triumph for Brazil’s most successful club. But it came against the backdrop of grief and agony following the deaths of 10 academy players – all between 14 and 16 years old – in a fire in a dormitory.
But Liverpool will soon be counting the casualties, as midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain landed badly after an aerial challenge, hurting the same right knee which he suffered ligament damage to in 2018 and which sidelined him for a year.
The looks on the faces of the players suggested the England international’s injury could be serious and another lengthy absence would be a bitter blow to the 26-year-old. – AP, REUTERS