Doha (AFP) – Bruno Henrique scored one goal and made two more to book Flamengo’s place in the final of the Club World Cup as the Brazilian giants came from behind to beat Asian champions Al Hilal 3-1 in Doha on Tuesday.
Salem Aldawsari gave the Saudi club a deserved lead in the first half of this semi-final on a rare rainy night at the Khalifa International Stadium, but Flamengo woke up after the interval and equalised through Giorgian De Arrascaeta in the 49th minute.
Bruno Henrique then headed home after 78 minutes and the Rio club made sure of their win when the same player’s low cross was turned into his own net by unfortunate defender Ali Albulayhi with eight minutes to play.
The Brazilians will play the winner of Wednesday’s second semi-final in Doha, when Liverpool face Mexican club Monterrey.
Fresh from winning the Copa Libertadores and the Brazilian title in the last month, Flamengo are now hoping to win this trophy for the first time.
However, they did win the old Intercontinental Cup in 1981, a side captained by Zico defeating Liverpool 3-0 in Tokyo. A rematch between the clubs now looks to be on the cards, unless Monterrey can pull off a major shock.
However, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp — who was expected to attend this game before watching his own club’s second string play a League Cup tie against Aston Villa on television — will have identified weaknesses his side might be able to exploit in a potential final.
Indeed, it looked halfway through this game that there might be another shock, with Flamengo in danger of losing in the semi-finals, just as River Plate had done last year in going out to Emirati side Al-Ain at the same stage.
Al Hilal won the Asian Champions League last month and boast the likes of ex-France striker Bafetimbi Gomis and diminutive Italian striker Sebastian Giovinco in their ranks.
They were the better team in the first half and deserved the lead given to them in the 18th minute when Salem met a low ball in from the right with a first-time strike that was deflected off defender Pablo Mari and into the net.
Flamengo’s Portuguese coach Jorge Jesus — formerly in charge of Benfica — managed to rouse his side at the interval, though, and they needed just four minutes to haul themselves level when a lovely move ended with Bruno Henrique squaring for the Uruguayan De Arrascaeta to score.
Bruno Henrique, who is a Brazilian international forward, then ended any possibility of the game going to extra time when he met Rafinha’s cross with a thumping header to make it 2-1 before forcing the own goal that made sure of the victory to the delight of the several thousand travelling Brazilian supporters.
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