Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Flamengo come from behind to book Club World Cup final

Flamengo come from behind to book Club World Cup final slot

Bruno Henrique scored one goal and made two more to book Flamengo's place in the final of the Club World Cup as the Brazilian giants came from behind to beat Asian champions Al Hilal 3-1 in Doha on Tuesday.

Salem Aldawsari gave the Saudi club a deserved lead in the first half of this semifinal on a rare rainy night at the Khalifa International Stadium, but Flamengo woke up after the interval and equalised through Giorgian De Arrascaeta in the 49th minute.

Bruno Henrique then headed home after 78 minutes and the Rio club made sure of their win when the same player's low cross was turned into his own net by defender Ali Albulayhi with eight minutes to play.

The Brazilians will play the winner of Wednesday's second semifinal in Doha, when Liverpool face Mexican club Monterrey.

"This is the cherry on the cake on the season that Flamengo have had," said Portuguese coach Jorge Jesus, the former Benfica boss who also had a spell in charge at Al Hilal last year.

"I don't care whether we play Liverpool or the Mexican side. We didn't think about Liverpool before playing Al Hilal but I am always impressed with European football and I believe they are the favourites.

"When we came here to Qatar we wanted to win the Club World Cup, and now we want it even more."


Fresh from winning the Copa Libertadores and the Brazilian title in the last month, Flamengo are hoping to win this trophy for the first time.

However, they did win the old Intercontinental Cup in 1981, a side captained by Zico defeating Liverpool 3-0 in Tokyo. A rematch between the clubs now looks to be on the cards, unless Monterrey can pull off a major shock.

Indeed, it looked halfway through this game that there might be another shock, with Flamengo in danger of losing in the semifinals, just as River Plate had done last year in going out to Emirati side Al-Ain at the same stage.

Al Hilal won the Asian Champions League last month and boast the likes of ex-France striker Bafetimbi Gomis and diminutive Italian striker Sebastian Giovinco in their ranks.

They were the better team in the first half and deserved the lead given to them in the 18th minute when Salem met a low ball in from the right with a first-time strike that deflected off defender Pablo Mari into the net.

Jesus managed to rouse his side at the interval, though, and they needed just four minutes to haul themselves level when a lovely move ended with Bruno Henrique squaring for the Uruguayan De Arrascaeta to score.

Bruno Henrique, who is a Brazilian international forward, then ended any possibility of the game going to extra time when he met Rafinha's cross with a thumping header to make it 2-1 before forcing the own goal that made sure of the victory to the delight of the several thousand travelling Brazilian supporters.

Liverpool face Monterrey of Mexico at the Club World Cup in Doha on Wednesday knowing that Flamengo lie in wait should they make it to the final of a competition they are looking to win for the first time.

Jurgen Klopp's side have taken time out from their seemingly relentless march towards the Premier League title to come to Qatar, being forced to postpone one league game and play a youthful second string in a domestic cup tie which they lost 5-0 to Aston Villa.

However, Klopp brushed off suggestions that the competition is not the Anfield club's priority as they prepare to take on the winners of the most recent CONCACAF Champions League.

"We are here, and we don't fly 3 000 kilometres to not show up. We are here now, so our life is constantly dealing with difficult situations and finding solutions, being focused on the next game, wherever it is, we don't care," Klopp said at a press conference on Tuesday.

"Is it the most important cup competition in the world? I don't know.

"In Europe obviously everyone thinks the Champions League is the most important competition. In Brazil Flamengo celebrated the Copa Libertadores intensely, so we are here to represent Liverpool and Europe, and we will try our best like we do always."

Klopp watched on television from his Doha hotel as Liverpool fielded their youngest ever starting line-up for Tuesday's League Cup quarterfinal tie at Aston Villa, including five first-team debutants, and suffered a heavy defeat.

All of his senior players are in Doha, with Georginio Wijnaldum part of the squad despite being unavailable to face Monterrey.

Liverpool are hoping to win their second piece of silverware this season, having already lifted the Uefa Supercup in August on the back of their Champions League triumph. They were unbeaten in 19 games before the Aston Villa tie, and had lost just twice since January.

"We want to continue our good form. If a distraction is a chance to win a trophy then it's a pretty good distraction to have," said James Milner.

"The Super Cup we wanted to get over the line and there is a long way to go in the league, but the way we have started and the tempo we have started at, I think that takes a special mentality."

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