Liverpool left it late to edge past a determined Monterrey side in the Club World Cup semi-final, ultimately it was a tale of two Brazilians that saw Jurgen Klopp‘s side into Saturday’s showpiece.
The Reds lined up for their second game in 24 hours as Mexican side Monterrey stood between Liverpool and a final against Flamengo – ironically enough the game would hinge on two players who Saturday’s opponents will know well.
Travelling fans had come from all corners of the globe to watch the Reds, the biggest cheer of the night came for Mohamed Salah pre-match, the Egyptian is a hero in the Arabic speaking world.
Once the action got underway it was a nervous start for the European champions, the ball was in the back of Alisson‘s net inside of 30 seconds – however, Rogelio Funes Mori was correctly flagged for offside.
Liverpool took a little while to settle, Klopp’s men seemed off their normal pace and were hampered by a number of bizarre changes. Jordan Henderson found himself at centre-back, Virgil van Dijk ruled out with an illness.
While Trent Alexander-Arnold dropped to the bench giving James Milner a shot at right-back, it looked to unsettle the side in the early moments.
Further upfield, Naby Keita was beginning to be an outlet for the Reds attack – no surprise then that the Guinean had the game’s first big moment.
Latching onto a wonderful pass from Salah, Keita slipped the Reds into a 12th-minute lead.
Unfortunately though, as seen on numerous occasions this season, Liverpool have been susceptible to a high cross – and that is what undid them inside the Khalifa Stadium.
Funes Mori (twin brother of the ex-Evertonian) fired the Mexican side level two minutes later, an initial good save from Alisson was pounced upon and Liverpool found themselves back to square one.
The Reds then suffered from a lack of quality but did almost take the lead at the end of the first half, the second 45 would need to be an improvement.
Klopp’s side came out looking for a quick goal, but so did Monterrey – the game took on a basketball feel, end to end action. There was even a moment of tension between the two managers.
Antonio Mohamed wanted a second yellow card for Joe Gomez, Klopp was having none of it – the two clashed on the side of the pitch and both received a caution from the Chilean match referee.
The game was tied, in every way. Both clubs were locked in a fight – as the game headed towards full-time Klopp went for broke. Sadio Mane was followed off the bench by Alexander-Arnold and Roberto Firmino.
As the clock struck 90, the two combined to fire Liverpool into the Club World Cup Final. Alexander-Arnold fooled everyone with a disguised pass on the floor, Firmino tapped home, cue wild celebrations both on and off the pitch.
Special mention must go to Liverpool’s Brazilain goalkeeper – Alisson made a number of crucial saves, once again backing up the widely held opinion that he’s the best in the world.
Liverpool held on for the final three additional minutes, reaching their first final in this tournament since 2005. Once again a Brazilain side awaits them, but this time the Reds have a South American flair to their game – the final should be a thrilling encounter.
Two and a half days of rest should be enough for Liverpool to recover and hopefully be crowned the best side in world club football come Saturday evening.