…Club World Cup
Onochie Anibeze, Qatar
December 18, 2019: Khalifa Stadium.
Roberto Firmino’s stoppage time goal set up the clash the world has been craving for here – a Liverpool versus Flamingo final in the Club World Cup final on Saturday.
Fans were already preparing for the extra time when the came came and the stadium erupted in ovation. It gave the European champions a 2-1 victory in a match that met the expectations of fans.
The magnificent Khalifa stadium was pact full as Liverpool took on the Concacaf champions, Monterrey of Mexico in the semifinal of this year’s Club World Cup here in Qatar.
Khalifa Stadium is one of the venues for the 2022 World Cup. Few months ago, it hosted the World Athletics Championships and now it is capturing the attention of the world as the continental champions slugged it out here.
The dream of Liverpool/Flamingo final on Saturday has come true. . Naby Keita scored a brilliant goal off a brilliant through-pass from Mo Salah in the 11th minute. Pogello Funes equalised two minutes later for Monterrey. Liverpool dominated the early minutes although they looked sloppy a few times in the defence.
The goals in these early minutes gave a good account of the the character of match in in those early minutes in that Liverpool’s goal was a beauty but that of Monterrey could be attributed to the sloppiness in Liverpool defence. They looked vulnerable the few times Monterrey have countered.
Their fans, in one side of the stadium, were louder in their cheers than the many reds in the stadium. It was 1-1 at half time.
Liverpool started the second half on a faster pace. With Mane on the bench many passes were being directed to Salah who put the wrong foot to the passes except the one that led to their goal in the first half.
As Mo Salah kept on kept losing rhythm the stadium roared when Mane stepped out to replace Xherdam Shaqiri in the 67th minute. Few minutes later Trent Alexander-Arnold replaced James Milner and Liverpool appeared to be on the march to victory although Monterrey, so far, had shown strong character in attacking and finding spaces behind Liverpool defence but not converting. As time clocked 80 minutes, a section of the stadium started shouting ‘Mo Salah, Mo Salah.’ It was to urge him on. What they were seeing was not the Mo Salah they were used to on television. Their hero was yet to perform to their expectation. Many had come to watch him.
The Egyptian had not impressed. But in one moment of brilliance Salah took on three players in the 18 yard, did some tricks and the ball rolled to Roberto Firmino who slotted the ball in just as the announcer was announcing three minutes stoppage time. It ended 2-1. Interestingly, Mo Salah was named the man of the match. His two assists gave the award and when his name was announced the crowd celebrated him.
The stage is set for what fans have been craving for, a Liverpool/Flamingo final in this year’s Club World Cup. There would be crackers, flares on the night. The fans will surely have value for their money.