Firmino comes off the bench to fire Liverpool into final
Roberto Firmino's late goal lifts Liverpool past Monterrey 2-1
The Reds advance to face Flamengo in the final on Saturday
Rayados will meet Al Hilal to contest third place
It took substitute Roberto Firmino only six minutes of game time to strike the winning goal for Liverpool, who edged Monterrey 2-1 and advanced to the final of the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2019™.
Called upon by head coach Jurgen Klopp in the 85th minute to replace Divock Origi, the Brazil international turned Trent Alexander-Arnold's cross into the net one minute into second-half stoppage time.
Liverpool dominated possession at the outset, though struggled to make it count until Mohamed Salah’s unbelievable reverse pass left Naby Keita with the task of slotting beyond Marcelo Barovero in the 12th minute.
The underdogs hadn’t read the script though and struck back almost immediately. Alisson spilled Jesus Gallardo’s effort and Rogelio Funes Mori – whose twin brother Ramiro used to play for The Reds’ local rivals Everton – tapped home the rebound.
The Mexicans burst into life, with Dorlan Pabon twice worrying the reigning The Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper from the right flank before the break. The captain continued his one-man siege on the Liverpool goal after the restart, too, as Los Rayados remained bright.
Stout and organised defending from the Concacaf champions frustrated the usually free-flowing English side, even if much of the packed stadium erupted in nervous excitement every time Salah looked to conjure an opportunity.
The UEFA champions left it late, but broke the deadlock at last through Firmino. The move began with Salah, who raced down the right side toward the endline, controlling the ball in tight space before laying it off to Alexander-Arnold. Substitute picked out substitute when the English right-back curled a pass for Firmino at the near post. Liverpool's No9 coolly beat Barovero to send The Reds to their second FIFA Club World Cup final.
Alibaba Cloud Match Award winner: Mohamed Salah
Qatar 2019: Monterrey - Liverpool
Roberto Firmino of Liverpool celebrates with teammate Trent Alexander-Arnold of Liverpool
DOHA, QATAR - DECEMBER 18: Roberto Firmino of Liverpool celebrates with teammate Trent Alexander-Arnold of Liverpool after scoring their team's second 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 with teammate
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)