Liverpool win Club World Cup
Published: 01:57 PM, 22 December 2019
For the very first time, Liverpool have won the Club World Cup after Roberto Firmino’s extra-time goal allowed Liverpool to beat Flamengo 1-0 in the final in Doha on Saturday.
In three years, the biggest prize in soccer will be handed out in a stadium yet to be completed.
With a 45,000-strong crowd packed into Khalifa Stadium, Qatar has shown it can fill a venue with sports fans - unlike at the track and field world championships earlier this year.
But it is a stadium touched by the welfare concerns that have dogged Qatar’s building work since being awarded the main 32-team World Cup in 2010 by FIFA. A British worker plunged to his death during the construction phase in conditions later deemed to be dangerous.
The latest piece of silverware is Liverpool’s third in little over six months after they won the Champions League in June and began this season by winning the UEFA Super Cup on penalties against Chelsea.
Van Dijk returned against Flamengo after illness kept him out of the 2-1 semi-final victory against Monterrey and that determination to be back playing summed up Liverpool’s attitude towards the competition.
The Club World Cup is not held in the highest regard in Europe, coming in the middle of a busy club season.
That is in contrast to South America, with Flamengo’s huge support in Doha showing just how much Saturday’s game meant to them.
Liverpool will continue their defense of the Champions League with a last-16 tie against Atletico Madrid in February, and host local rivals Everton in the FA Cup third round on January 5.
However, the Premier League is the one they really have in their sights as they seek a first English title since 1990.
As well as the trophies in 2019, Klopp’s team have not lost a league game since their very first outing of the year, at Manchester City. They have won 25 and drawn one of their last 26 in the Premier League.
There was more good news for them on Saturday as nearest rivals Leicester City lost 3-1 at Manchester City, leaving Liverpool 10 points clear at the top with a game in hand.
Klopp’s squad have little time for celebrations, however, as they return to England to prepare to visit Leicester on Thursday.
But while a week in Qatar might have seemed like an unwanted distraction for some in a busy schedule, Klopp was keen to point out that his team have still played the same number of games as their challengers.
With several players already out, however, the downside was seeing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain go off hurt in the second half against Flamengo, and the midfielder may be set for another spell on the sidelines.
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