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Roberto Firmino's 91st-Minute Winner Sends Liverpool to Club World Cup Final

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistDecember 18, 2019

DOHA, QATAR - DECEMBER 18: Rodolfo Pizarro and Leonel Vangioni  of C.F. Monterrey battles for possession with Mohamed Salah of Liverpool  during the FIFA Club World Cup semi-final match between Monterrey and Liverpool at Education City Stadium on December 18, 2019 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
Francois Nel/Getty Images

Liverpool advanced to the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup final after defeating Monterrey 2-1 on Wednesday at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar.

Naby Keita gave Jurgen Klopp's men the perfect start after slotting home after 11 minutes, but Rogelio Funes Mori grabbed a surprise equaliser just three minutes later.

Roberto Firmino came off the bench in the closing stages and steered home the winner in the first minute of stoppage time, sending the Reds into the final.

B/R Football @brfootball

The FIFA Club World Cup Final is set 🔥 https://t.co/1bQfwAwec4

Virgil van Dijk was missing due to illness, and Liverpool started with a rotated side. Sadio Mane, Firmino and Trent Alexander-Arnold were named on the bench, with Xherdan Shaqiri and Divock Origi handed rare starts.

Liverpool made the perfect start to the game, as their attack quickly took control of the encounter. Mohamed Salah was tricky to mark, and the Egyptian superstar's mobility caused doubts in the Mexican defence.

Salah released Keita with a fine pass that sliced through the back-four, allowing the Guinea international to confidently finish.

B/R Football @brfootball

Naby Keita's 44-game Liverpool career: First 41 games: 3 goals Last 3 games: 3 goal 🔥 https://t.co/HYlTgs3c2c

It appeared the Reds would go on to dominate, but their opponents exploited an opportunity from a set piece.

Liverpool's defence tried to push up from a long ball into the box, but their timing was off, giving Monterrey the chance to strike.

Jesus Gallardo's initial shot was saved by Alisson, but the rebound was tucked away by Funes Mori.

Fox Soccer highlighted a milestone for the player:

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

What a response by @Rayados! Rogelio Funes Mori follows up from close range with his 100th career goal for the club. https://t.co/HuPHpQkDP3

The goal stunned the Premier League leaders, and Liverpool attempted to play on the front foot once again.

Salah continued to be the most dangerous player on the pitch and the most likely to score, but Rayados improved their possession and economy.

Alisson was called into action again as he denied Funes Mori at the far post. However, Keita nearly grabbed his brace two minutes before half-time.

Liverpool's Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson Becker (L) dives to make a save during the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup semi-final football match between Mexico's Monterrey and England's Liverpool at the Khalifa International Stadium in the Qatari capital Doha on De
GIUSEPPE CACACE/Getty Images

Another set piece had Liverpool in trouble after the restart. Dorlan Pabon almost beat Alisson with a direct free-kick, but the goalkeeper's full-stretch dive kept the ball out of his net. The Colombia international remained a threat from long distance and he was quickly closed down by Klopp's defence whenever he was near the box.

Keita's runs from midfield were impressive, and the game became stretched as both teams chased a winner.

Liverpool appeared vulnerable without Van Dijk's presence at the back, and Klopp decided to unleash Mane from the bench with 23 minutes remaining. Alisson was the busier of the two keepers, and Monterrey's attacking intentions didn't waiver throughout the second half.

B/R Football @brfootball

ROBERTO FIRMINO. FTW. 🔴 https://t.co/cSZTcQB6B6

Firmino entered the fray for the final five minutes, and Klopp appeared eager to win the game before extra time was needed.

Liverpool went for the jugular in the final moments, and a tremendous cross by substitute Alexander-Arnold was expertly steered home by Firmino. Klopp's late gamble paid off, and the English side once again showed they are potent when closing out matches.

                             

What's Next?

Both teams will feature on Sunday as they complete their Club World Cup commitments in Doha. Monterrey will play Al Hilal in the third-place play-off, while Liverpool face Flamengo in the final.