Great Britain

Roberto Firmino the hero again as Liverpool beat Flamengo to win the Club World Cup final

Jurgen Klopp may have confessed to having zero clue what it looked like, but after Liverpool’s 1-0 victory over Flamengo he had the Club World Cup trophy held triumphantly over his head. It is Liverpool’s third piece of silverware in just six months.  

His players had so craved adding the gold badge with the imposing ‘world champions’ inscription to their kits and will soon proudly get to advertise it on their chests.

It wasn’t pretty or poetry – and the win featured one of the most appalling refereeing performances seen in a showpiece final by Qatar’s Abdulrahman Al Jassim – but not even he could deny what Liverpool believed was their destiny.

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Their “addiction” for honours, as Adam Lallana put it, has delivered an unmatched treble by an English club. The Champions League, Super Cup and now Fifa’s flagship club competition have all been conquered – the latter for the first time – while the quest to lift the Premier League will resume for the division’s leaders next week.

In Doha, Flamengo fans had dominated at Souq Waqif, where tables overflowed with Sofret Ahel El Raya at Damasca One Restaurant and chants in support of their team were only interrupted to puff shisha.

They had taken over the pristine metro too, where they borrowed Hey Jude by The Beatles to venerate their manager: “Na, na, na, na-na-na na, Na-na-na na, Jesus!”

The Brazilians, most of whom endured over 20-hour indirect flights from Rio de Janeiro to Qatar, enlivened the terraces at Khalifa International Stadium just as they had done everywhere here.

It was the Flamengo takeover – except where it mattered most with the Copa Libertadores victors ultimately failing to follow suit and overshadow Liverpool in a well-contested, tense affair.

It took 99 minutes for the decisive moment of the match to materialise: a move finished off by Roberto Firmino who was aided by Sadio Mane and man-of-the-match contender Jordan Henderson.

Liverpool could have taken the lead inside 60 seconds, but the Brazil international blasted over on that occasion, with Naby Keita doing the same moments later.

The champions of Europe swarmed their opponents in the opening half of play, but Jorge Jesus’ side grew into their stride and starting posing problems around 20 minutes in without creating anything of significance.

It was, unfortunately, referee Al Jassim that drew the most attention in a first half where Liverpool did not have a shot on target, with his decisions of the head-scratching variety.

The official was hugely out of his depth, a verdict which only looked more certain as time ticked on.

The second half was predictably more open, with Firmino striking the inside of the post and Gabriel Barbosa serving as Flamengo’s main threat.

He forced two saves from Alisson, while at the other end, Diego Alves did excellently to deny Henderson with his fingertips.

While the game was elevated after the interval, Al Jassim’s officiating reached new levels of incompetence as evidenced by his penalising of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who later hobbled off with his right ankle wrapped in a protective boot, when Filipe Luis went down after clashing with Pablo Mari’s shoulder. 

Van Dijk and Firmino celebrate the winning goal (Getty)

But the worst was to come.

In injury time, the referee awarded Liverpool a penalty on 91 minutes after Mane was impeded by Rafinha as he was clean through on goal and about to shoot. Al Jassim went to the pitchside monitor to review his decision and replays showed the foul took place just outside the area. That seemed the only matter of contention, but he ruled there was no infringement and so there was no free-kick, no red card and a bizarre drop ball to Flamengo.

But there was only so much Al Jassim could do to ruin a fine spectacle before a goal finally came. Henderson, superb all night, did well to keep the pressure on, before playing Mane through. The Senegal international ran across goal, checking back and supplying the unmarked Firmino, who shifted the ball to his right and blasted it past Alves.

Liverpool can now add another trophy to the Champions Wall at Melwood and it is a good thing the club will be moving to a more expansive training facility, because at this rate, they will require a lot more space to detail their honours.

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