Liverpool claimed their maiden Club World success with a 1-0 after extra time victory over Brazil’s Flamengo in Doha.
Roberto Firmino scored the game’s only goal in the 99th minute, to banish the demons of 1981 and make the Reds the first ever English club to win a continental treble, European Cup, Super Cup and Club World Cup.
The European Champions started with the intensity of a team who meant business, despite all the pre match talk of the game meaning more to Flamengo.
Firmino was put through on goal by a Trent Alexander Arnold pass, but the Brazilian skied over when under pressure from his compatriot, Rodrigo Caio.
More shots followed in a hectic opening five minutes of attacks. Naby Keita fired over from just inside the box and Alexander Arnold drilled a long range shot just wide.
The game then lulled into a slow paced affair, with the Copa Libertadores holders sporadically threatening through winger Bruno Henrique.
For their part, the European Champions struggled to knit passages of play together, with Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and Firmino particularly guilty of cheaply giving the ball away.
The Reds only chance of after their bright opening five minutes arrived at the cusp of half time. The Brazilians made a mess of a short corner routine and Liverpool broke through Salah.
With a huge overload on the right hand side, with several players streaming forward, the Egyptian could not beat the first man with his pass and a potentially promising move petered out and the half ended 0-0.
Liverpool started the second half in a similar manner to the first; and came closest as they had been to a goal, with their first attack of the second period. Jordan Henderson’s pass found Firmino in behind Flamengo’s defence. The Brazilian deftly flicked the ball over Caio’s head and waited before smashing a left footed volley into the ground and off the inside of the left post.
The Jorge Jesus coached Brazilian’s showed their teeth, too, early in the second half when Gabigol forced Alisson into his first save of the game. The had another big involvement not long after when Henrique, among Flamengo’s best players, charged down his attempted kick.
Oxlade Chamberlain’s frustrating outing continued when he squandered a good opportunity manufactured by Salah and Mane by wastefully crossing to nobody and letting the exposed Flamengo off the hook.
Long balls over the top were proving to be a bountiful source of chances for Liverpool and Salah ought to have done better when he was sent behind by a long Keita pass, but he smashed over the bar from inside the box as the clock hit the 60 minute mark.
Oxlade Chamberlain’s poor night was compounded when an awkward landing saw him forced off with what appeared to be an ankle injury. Adam Lallana, the night’s first substitute, replaced his fellow England international.
Enterprising play from Lallana, Mane and Firmino saw the ball deflect it’s way through to Alexander Arnold just outside the box, but the full backs shot was deflected into the hands of Diego Alves as the wait for a goal went into it’s 80th minute.
Alves had another save to make in the 85th minute when Henderson hit a Salah pull back flush and towards the right hand top corner, but the former Valencia man managed to push it over the bar.
Finally, after what felt like an interminable wait, Liverpool thought they were awarded a penalty in the final minute of added time in the second half.
Racing through on goal, Sadio Mane was fouled by Rafinha and the referee pointed to the spot. However, upon consulting VAR, the foul was adjudged to have taken place outside the box. Mystifying belief, though, the Brazilian full back, the last man, was not sent off for a clear foul on Mane and, beggaring belief, Flamengo were awarded a free kick which saw the game head to extra time.
Henderson, along with Joe Gomez, had been Liverpool’s best performer on the night and he played an integral role in the only goal. The captain splintered the Brazilian’s defence with a through ball into the path of Mane. The Senegalese winger then found Firmino with a cross and the forward feigned shooting, sold a dummy to the Flamengo defence — including keeper Alves — before slotting him into the empty net.
Liverpool team: Alisson; Alexander Arnold, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Keita, Oxlade Chamberlain; Salah, Firmino, Mane.
Substitutions: Lallana for Oxlade Chamberlain. Shaqiri for Salah. Milner for Keita. Origi for Firmino.