Football

Roberto Firmino sends Liverpool into Fifa Club World Cup final

Roberto Firmino celebrates Liverpool's winner (Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Roberto Firmino came off the bench to score a stoppage-time winner as Liverpool secured their place in the Fifa Club World Cup final with a narrow 2-1 win over Monterrey.

Jurgen Klopp opted to rotate his squad to give some of his fringe players a chance to impress if they progressed to the final, with Adam Lallana and Xherdan Shaqiri both handed starts.

But with Virgil van Dijk out with illness, Jordan Henderson was forced to operate as a makeshift centre-back, with James Milner deployed at right-back.

The unbalanced Reds line-up didn’t seem to have much effect on them going forward as the Naby Keita winners dominated the early stages and it was no surprise to see them go ahead.

Mohamed Salah was the architect, holding off his marker and playing a clever reverse pass into Naby Keita, who finished with aplomb.

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Just two minutes later, Monterrey were back on level terms. Liverpool failed to clear from a free-kick and after Jesus Gallardo saw his effort parried away by Alisson, Rogelio Funes Mori slotted home the rebound.

Salah was proving to be a thorn in the side but more in the creative sense as his sublime backheel played in Milner, who saw his scuffed effort stopped by Marcelo Barovero.

The Mexicans began to grow into the game as Dorlan Pabon twice tested Alisson, but the Brazilian stopper was as reliable as ever in goal.

Keita almost grabbed his second before the break with an identical move to the first goal, but Barovero was ready to come off his line and smother the ball.

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The chances didn’t stop coming after the interval with both sides going close. The impressive Pabon curled a lovely free-kick up and over the wall with Alisson forced into a fingertip save. Then Keita went on a mazy run, slaloming past two defenders before striking at Barovero from point-blank range.

Klopp decided to abort his plan to rest Sadio Mane, sending on the Senegalese forward with 25 minutes left for Shaqiri and later sent on Firmino.

And the Brazilian came up trumps in stoppage time, slotting home superbly from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross to steal victory late on.

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