Liverpool won their first Club World Cup trophy after beating Brazilian side Flamengo 1-0 in a hard-fought victory thanks to Roberto Firmino's strike in extra-time.
In a game full of goalscoring opportunities, Liverpool were denied an injury-time penalty in normal time by VAR as referee Abdulrahman Al-Jassim awarded a spot-kick for a foul on Sadio Mane - only for the decision to be reversed.
But with Flamengo's legs tiring in the additional half hour, Liverpool capitalised through a ruthless counter-attack started by Jordan Henderson which Firmino finished off.
Liverpool, with the recalled Virgin van Dijk in their ranks, started strongly when Firmino fluffed a chance to beat the keeper after 40 seconds, and Naby Keita clipped a shot just over the bar after good work from Henderson.
In the second half, there was miserable news for Liverpool when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain rolled his ankle and had to be stretchered off.
VAR was then needed to check an injury time tackle from Rafinha on Mane that first led to a penalty, before the foul was rescinded entirely with a confusing refereeing decision.
The game was decided in extra time when Firmino’s calm, well-taken finish converted a counterattack, setting up Jurgen Klopp’s side for a return to a Premier League campaign they should now go on to win.
Jordan Henderson of Liverpool lifts the FIFA Club World Cup trophy following his team's victory during the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2019 Final between Liverpool FC and CR Flamengo at Education City Stadium on December 21, 2019 in Doha, Qatar
Image credit: Getty Images
Oxlade-Chamberlain’s injury could be a disaster. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had been making excellent progress from his terrible knee injury, and there were gasps of concern when he went down in the second half. Thankfully it doesn’t look to be a relapse of any kind, but a serious ankle injury could hamper Liverpool’s second season as the fixtures pile up.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Roberto Firmino (Liverpool): He missed a couple of decent chances in the first half, but the threat he poses alongside Sadio Mane and Mo Salah gives any opponent almost no chance. They are so constantly dangerous that nobody can relax, and Flamengo did well to hold on for so long.
Flamengo: Alves 6, Filipe Luis 6, Mari 6, Caio 6, Rafinha 6, De Arrascaeta 6, Gerson 6, Arao 6, Ribeiro 6, Barbosa 7. Subs: Vitinho 6, Diego 6, Lincoln 5, Berrio 6.
1’ - FIRMINO MISS - Firmino brings down a ball over the top, Caio starts to bother him but he has the goal in front of him, and he slices it miles over!
6’ - ALEXANDER-ARNOLD SHOT - Alexander-Arnold has a chance this time and he fizzes a shot from just outside the box wide of the post.
47’ - FIRMINO CHANCE - Firmino juggles past the committed Caio absolutely brilliantly, and Firmino rattles his shot against the post with the 'keeper stranded. What a chance!
53’ - ALISSON SAVE - Barbosa gets a snapshot away just inside the box and Van Dijk can't close him down in time. Alisson gets across quickly to beat it away.
73’ - OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN INJURY - Ah, no. Oxlade-Chamberlain lands on his right leg and something squirts out uncontrollably. It probably isn't his knee, and it looks like it his ankle, but that could do for a month or two - at least - for him.
90+1’ - PENALTY! MANE GOES DOWN! Rafinha is booked for hauling down Mane down the middle. It looks certain.
90+4’ - NO! FREE KICK! VAR seems to show contact is outside the box. NO! Not even a foul, which is a complete nonsense.
99’ - GOAL! Liverpool 1-0 Flamengo (Firmino). Liverpool race forward as Henderson picks out Mane down the middle. Nobody catches up with Firmino to his left, who is slid in, and he takes a few touches to ground the 'keeper and drill into an empty net.