Liverpool through to Club World Cup final with late Firmino goal

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Soccer Football - Club World Cup - Semi Final - Monterrey v Liverpool - Khalifa International Stadium, Doha, Qatar - December 18, 2019  Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp reacts                     REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp (Credit: REUTERS)

Roberto Firmino scored a last-gasp injury-time goal to put Liverpool through to the FIFA Club World Cup final.

The Brazilian’s late strike gave his side a 2-1 win over Mexican side Monterrey and means Jurgen Klopp’s team face Flamengo in Saturday’s final.

An early Naby Keita goal gave Liverpool the lead, but Monterrey responded immediately, equalising two minutes later.

The Mexican side were impressive and could easily have won an open game, regularly testing Liverpool’s patched-up rearguard, but falling just short.

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Klopp made five changes from the side that beat Watford 2-0 in the Premier League on Saturday.

Virgil van Dijk’s absence due to illness meant that Jordan Henderson filled in at centre-back alongside Joe Gomez, while Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri came in for Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.

Liverpool enjoyed plenty of the ball in the opening exchanges, immediately suffocating their Mexican opponents when they were in possession and controlling the early part of the game, and it was the European champions that took the lead.

DOHA, QATAR - DECEMBER 18: Naby Keita of Liverpool scores a goal to make it 0-1 during the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2019 Semi Final match between Monterrey and Liverpool FC at Khalifa International Stadium on December 18, 2019 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)
Naby Keita of Liverpool scores (Credit: Getty Images)

Mohamed Salah picked up the ball with his back to goal just outside the area. He held off his marker before playing a brilliant reverse pass through to Naby Keita, who coolly slotted home. But that lead lasted just two minutes.

A free-kick from the left made its way all the way to the back post, before being headed back across and met with an overhead-kick that Alisson was equal to. The Liverpool keeper didn’t manage to hold on to the ball, however, and Rogelio Funes Mori (whose twin brother Ramiro used to play for Everton) gobbled up the opportunity to equalise.

DOHA, QATAR - DECEMBER 18: Rogelio Funes of C.F. Monterrey celebrates with teammate Stefan Medina of C.F. Monterrey after scoring their team's first goal during the FIFA Club World Cup semi-final match between Monterrey and Liverpool FC at Khalifa International Stadium on December 18, 2019 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by David Ramos - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
Rogelio Funes of C.F. Monterrey celebrates (Credit: Getty Images)

Fiver minutes later, Liverpool came close to taking the lead once more, with Salah the architect once again. Receiving the ball in the right-hand channel his back heel found the overlapping James Milner, but his shot was saved by the onrushing Barovero in the Monterrey net.

But just as Monterrey had responded after the goal, they were showing as much attacking intent as their opponents now that they were settled. Right winger Dorlan Pabon was particularly lively, and drew a very smart save from Alisson.

When Pabon drove forward again and tried to square it to Pizarro for an open goal, the faintest of touches from Alisson’s fingertips was enough to divert the ball away from the striker’s awaiting path.

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In the second half Pabon continued to trouble Klopp’s side, twice forcing saves from Alisson early on. Every time the Monterrey captain got the ball he looked aggressive, driving at the Liverpool defence at every opportunity.

Soccer Football - Club World Cup - Semi Final - Monterrey v Liverpool - Khalifa International Stadium, Doha, Qatar - December 18, 2019  Monterrey's Dorlan Pabon has a shot saved by Liverpool's Alisson     REUTERS/Corinna Kern
Monterrey's Dorlan Pabon (Credit: Reuters)

Liverpool’s best chances were falling to Keita. The Guinean slalomed through two defenders in the box and fired a hard, low effort, but right at Barovero.

As the game ebbed on it became more and more open. Salah had an effort saved comfortably, while Funes Mori’s long-range effort was parried wide for a corner. With 20 minutes left to play, Klopp introduced Sadio Mane from the bench in search for a winner.

The Senegalese forward’s first contribution was to see an accidental effort go just wide. Milner’s cross into the box found Origi, but his attempt was misjudged and hit his teammate when he should really have hit the target.

Liverpool's Roberto Firmino celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the game during the FIFA Club World Cup semi final match at the Khalifa International Stadium, Doha. (Photo by Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images)
Liverpool's Roberto Firmino celebrates (Credit: Getty Images)

Two minutes later he followed it up with a hard shot from the edge of the box that went straight into the guts of Barovero.

But a last minute low cross from Trent Alexander-Arnold found another substitute, Roberto Firmino, in the six-yard box and he tapped home.

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