BRUNO Henrique scored one goal and made two more to book Flamengo’s place in the final of the Club World Cup as the Brazilian giants came from behind to beat Asian champions Al Hilal 3-1 here. Salem Aldawsari gave the Saudi club a deserved lead in the first half of this semi-final on a rare rainy night at the Khalifa International Stadium on Tuesday, but Flamengo woke up after the interval and equalised through Giorgian De Arrascaeta in the 49th minute. Bruno Henrique then headed home after 78 minutes and the Rio club made sure of their win when the same player’s low cross was turned into his own net by defender Ali Albulayhi with eight minutes to play.
The Brazilians will play the winner of Wednesday’s second semi-final in Doha, when Liverpool face Mexican club Monterrey. “This is the cherry on the cake on the season that Flamengo have had,” said Portuguese coach Jorge Jesus, the former Benfica boss who also had a spell in charge at Al Hilal last year. “I don’t care whether we play Liverpool or the Mexican side. We didn’t think about Liverpool before playing Al Hilal but I am always impressed with European football and I believe they are the favourites. “When we came here to Qatar we wanted to win the Club World Cup, and now we want it even more.” Fresh from winning the Copa Libertadores and the Brazilian title in the last month, Flamengo are hoping to win this trophy for the first time. However, they did win the old Intercontinental Cup in 1981, a side captained by Zico defeating Liverpool 3-0 in Tokyo.
A rematch between the clubs now looks to be on the cards, unless Monterrey can pull off a major shock. However, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp who was expected to attend this game before watching his own club’s second string play a League Cup tie against Aston Villa on television will have identified weaknesses his side might be able to exploit in a potential final. Indeed, it looked halfway through this game that there might be another shock, with Flamengo in danger of losing in the semi-finals, just as River Plate had done last year in going out to Emirati side Al-Ain at the same stage. Al Hilal won the Asian Champions League last month and boast the likes of ex-France striker Bafetimbi Gomis and diminutive Italian striker Sebastian Giovinco in their ranks.
They were the better team in the first half and deserved the lead given to them in the 18th minute when Salem met a low ball in from the right with a first-time strike that deflected off defender Pablo Mari into the net. Jesus managed to rouse his side at the interval, though, and they needed just four minutes to haul themselves level when a lovely move ended with Bruno Henrique squaring for the Uruguayan De Arrascaeta to score. Bruno Henrique, who is a Brazilian international forward, then ended any possibility of the game going to extra time when he met Rafinha’s cross with a thumping header to make it 2-1 before forcing the own goal that made sure of the victory to the delight of the several thousand travelling Brazilian supporters.
Liverpool’s Wijnaldum to miss Club World Cup semi-final: LIVERPOOL midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum has been ruled out of FIFA Club World Cup semi-final against Mexican side Monterrey due to a muscle injury, manager Juergen Klopp said. Wijnaldum was injured in Liverpool’s 2-0 Premier League win over Watford on Saturday but travelled with the squad to Qatar. Klopp said that the 29-year-old’s problem was not as serious as initially feared but that they would monitor how it responded to treatment over the coming days. “Gini was not as serious as we thought in the first moment, so he’s here doing the first recovery and then we have stuff what is necessary,” Klopp told reporters on Tuesday. “We’ll see day by day, but for tomorrow night (Wednesday) he’s not involved.”
Wijnaldum’s fellow Dutch international Virgil van Dijk also missed training in Doha on Monday but Klopp said the defender was not carrying any injury. “Virgil is fine. We had to do different stuff for recovery for different people, that was the reason why he wasn’t involved yesterday in the session,” Klopp added. “All the rest of the squad is fine.” European champions Liverpool are looking to capture their maiden Club World Cup trophy. The winner of Wednesday’s clash at the Khalifa International Stadium will take on Copa Libertadores champions Flamengo in Saturday’s final. With Premier League leaders Liverpool playing in Doha this week, they fielded a starting lineup consisting mainly of reserves and youth team players for Tuesday’s League Cup semi-final against Aston Villa. They acquitted themselves well against a more experienced Villa side but were beaten 5-0.