Firmino 8/10 for clutch Liverpool game-winner in CWC thriller over Flamengo
European champions Liverpool are now Club World Cup champions for the first time thanks to a deserved 1-0 win against Flamengo after extra-time.
Brazilian striker Roberto Firmino scored the winner to end an intriguing and riveting tactical battle in Qatar that saw Liverpool start both halves on the front foot. Firmino had a glorious chance to open the scoring in the first minute but the Brazilian could only shoot over. Flamengo reshuffled and grew in confidence. Bruno Henrique -- winner of the tournament's Silver Ball -- in particular was a menace in the first half, though Gabriel Barbosa enjoyed the Brazilian club's best effort; his shot palmed away by Alisson Becker.
Liverpool had good chances to win it in the second half but both Firmino and Salah wasted glorious opportunities. Jurgen Klopp's men thought they'd been awarded a penalty at the death, but a VAR check ruled against Rafinha fouling Sadio Mane.
In the end, Firmino's persistence paid off in extra-time and Liverpool collected their first silverware of the season.
Liverpool looked far more likely to win the game from open play and even though the Reds failed to reach top gear they still created multiple goalscoring opportunities. Joe Gomez was superb at the back and Alexander-Arnold recovered well after a tough first half. Mane's runs caused endless problems. This was a war of attrition which required great mental resilience. Jordan Henderson, as ever, led by example.
Liverpool made light work of Flamengo's high line in the opening half hour but Jorge Jesus's tactical tweaks saw the Brazilians restrict Liverpool in wide areas and even dominate parts of the midfield. Klopp will feel frustrated that his attacking triumvirate didn't take their chances earlier.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Klopp won a tough tactical battle. His side created more goalscoring opportunities, though they failed to find their usual rhythm. Liverpool's full-backs in particular found it hard to find space going forward, but the German will hope this win breeds further silverware in 2020.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Alisson Becker, 6 -- The Brazilian stopper had a quiet first half but was always off his line quickly when needed to sweep up behind his defenders. In the second half, he crucially saved well to his right following Barbosa's low drive.
DF Trent Alexander-Arnold, 7 -- The 21-year-old provided a defence-splitting pass that exposed Flamengo's high line in the opening minute to give Firmino a tremendous goalscoring opportunity. He then galloped forward himself and shot wide from 35 yards. At the other end he had his hands full with Bruno Henrique, but the England international enjoyed the better of the tussle in the second period.
DF Joe Gomez, 7 -- Solid at the back, Gomez showed off his excellent passing ability to progress the ball through the lines. He made an excellent block at the expense of Bruno Henrique after the winger had evaded Alexander-Arnold. Always looked calm even when under pressure.
DF Virgil van Dijk, 7 --The giant defender had a quiet game by his standards, but the fact Flamengo only had one shooting opportunity at goal tells you all you need to know about his defensive efficiency. He made a key defensive clearance at the near post in extra-time, then almost scored at the other end.
DF Andy Robertson, 6 -- The Scot had a somewhat quieter evening than fellow full-back Alexander-Arnold but he did his defensive duties well. He found attacking opportunities limited but did find Firmino with a shotcross on one occasion.
MF Naby Keita, 6 -- Keita had a glorious chance to score in the first half after Mo Salah held the ball up and laid the ball off for him to shoot, but he blazed over when he should have done better. Busy but largely ineffectual.
MF Jordan Henderson, 8 -- Henderson displayed an excellent passing range which proved a constant thorn in Flamengo's high line early on. It was his pass that found Salah early on to set up Keita, and again to release Mane for the winning goal in extra-time. Worked tirelessly, and also did well to help Alexander-Arnold nullify the threat of Bruno Henrique .
MF Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 6 -- Oxlade-Chamberlain enjoyed a really busy start. He made a purposeful run into the box in the first half only to face a strong challenge to stop him in his tracks. Enjoyed success when making runs between the lines. Was substituted after 75 minutes following a foul by Everton Ribeiro.
FW Mohamed Salah, 7 -- The Egyptian forward found little space in the first half but he did well to hold the ball up and invite Keita to shoot. He came alive in the second period. First, he had a good chance after Alexander-Arnold found him with an incisive cross but he could only shoot wide before he then blazed over when given a chance to shoot inside the box. Saw another effort well saved in extra-time. Was awarded the tournament's Golden Ball.
FW Roberto Firmino, 8 -- The Brazilian had fantastic chances to open the scoring at the start of both halves. First, he blazed over after having evaded Rodrigo Caio in the first minute. Then, he struck the post after the break having cleverly lifted the ball over his marker. It was a case of third-time lucky when he slotted home the winner when Mane set him up in extra-time.
FW Sadio Mane, 8 -- Mane was as lively as ever and enjoyed a brilliant match-up against Rafinha. Mane won the tussle but was unable to get himself into any clear goalscoring opportunities. His runs from midfield were a constant cause of concern for Flamengo though, and led to controversy late on when Rafinha was adjudged to have brought him down. Again, his run into space in extra-time saw him on the end of Henderson's exquisite pass and he found Firmino unmarked to score.
Adam Lallana, 5 -- Came on for the injured Oxlade-Chamberlain but failed to make a huge impact, not managing to get on the ball on too many occasions.
James Milner, 6 -- Replaced Keita and used his experience to frustrate Flamengo and kill the game in key moments. Proved excellent cover for Alexander-Arnold.
Divock Origi, n/a -- Led the line after coming on for Firmino and brought fresh legs and energy to the attack to help close down Flamengo's defenders on the ball.
Xherdan Shaqiri, n/a -- Came on as a late replacement for Salah in injury time of extra-time.