BOBBY FIRMINO grabbed an injury-time winner to send an unimpressive Liverpool into the Club World Cup final.
The Brazilian striker had only been on the pitch five minutes but he struck to set up a meeting against a team from his own country, Flamengo, in the final on Saturday.
Liverpool, who have never won this tournament before, lost to the Rio-based side in 1981 when this tournament was known as the Intercontinental Cup.
But Jurgen Klopp’s side, without an ill Virgil Van Dijk, were poor for long periods against a strong Mexican team and extra-time seemed a certainty.
They were also thankful to keeper Alisson who made a number of decent saves before Firmino turned in a cross from fellow sub Trent Alexander-Arnold.
In the final stages, tempers boiled over in the technical areas with both managers, Jurgen Klopp and Antonio Mohamed, having a row and both were booked. Klopp was angry that the Monterrey manager was appealing to the ref to give Joe Gomez a second yellow card.
In the first half, Naby Keita had opened the scoring for Liverpool before Monterrey levelled through Rogelio Funes Mori, whose twin brother is former Everton defender Ramiro, now at Villarreal.
The biggest cheer was saved for Mo Salah each time he touched the ball and it was his perfect pass which sliced through the Monterrey defence. Keita took one touch before dispatching the ball firmly into the net for his third goal in as many games.
While that quietened the extremely noisy band of Mexican supporters, they were able to celebrate wildly a couple of minutes later.
Liverpool failed to clear a free-kick and Alisson could only parry a shot from Leonel Vangioni and it fell perfectly for Funes.
Monterrey were not afraid to have a go from long-range and Alisson needed strong hands to keep out a piledriver from skipper Dorlan Pabon.
And the Brazilian keeper needed to be at his best to push away a cross-shot from Colombian forward Pabon - and then a free-kick from the same player.
We had to wait until the hour mar for Liverpool to muster a decent shot in the second half. Despite some fancy footwork from Keita to get past a couple of defenders, he hammered the ball straight at keeper Marcelo Barovero.
Having a poor game was striker Origi and he scuffed an effort when he probably should have scored.
The game seemed to be heading towards extra-time and just as it was announced there would be three minutes of stoppage time, Firmino stabbed Alexander-Arnold’s near-post cross into the net but this was all thanks to persistence from Salah.