Flamengo (Brazil) 0, Liverpool (England) 1
In an enthralling final between two well-matched, positive and high-quality sides at Qatar’s Khalifa International Stadium, Roberto Firmino’s extra-time goal in the 99th minute was enough to make Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool the World Club Champions of 2019, much to the disappointment of the 15,000 Flamengo fans who flew in all the way from Brazil to lend their team vociferous support. Liverpool could have well ended the show inside the normal 90 minutes of playing time had referee Abdulrahman Al Jassim not reversed his penalty decision after Sadio Mane went down under a challenge from Rafinha at the edge of the box.
Firmino squandered the opportunity to put Liverpool ahead in as early as the first minute of play, blazing over the bar before Naby Keita and Trent Alexander-Arnold also missed early opportunities to score as the European champions and Premier League leaders made a blistering start but frustratingly went into the interval goalless.
The Reds kept up the pressure after half-time with Firmino agonisingly hitting the post and Mohamed Salah shooting narrowly wide, but Flamengo responded well to early pressure in both halves and posed Liverpool problems. Flamengo always looked dangerous given the quality of Bruno Henrique, Everton Ribeiro and the prolific marksman Gabriel Barbosa but were contained in the opening exchanges by the relentless pressing of Liverpool’s midfield three. Barbosa’s powerful shot was destined for a bottom corner until Alisson’s strong right hand tipped the ball wide. The Liverpool custodian thwarted Barbosa again when the Brazil forward executed a spectacular overhead kick but Liverpool finished the stronger side at the end of normal time.
Jordan Henderson was outstanding in Liverpool’s midfield and supplied the cutting pass that led to winner nine minutes into extra time. Firmino, who cut back inside central defender Rodrigo Caio and goalkeeper Diego Alves before beating Rafinha’s despairing dive on the line with a cool finish. When it came to the Liverpool defense, Joe Gomez produced his best display of the season and a key role in the crucial win at Qatar.
Despite the Brazilian champs’ 53 per cent possession, Liverpool clearly looked the better side and the one more likely to score at any time (The English side had 6 shots on target to Flamengo’s 3).
In another encounter for the third place, Mexican side Monterrey earlier defeated Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal 4-3 on penalties after the full 120 minutes of playing ended in a 2-2 stalemate.
After Saturday night’s win at Qatar, Liverpool return to Premier League action against second-placed Leicester City on Thursday, December the 26th.