Doha: Brazilian champions Flamengo came from behind to beat Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal 3-1 on Tuesday and reserve their place in the final of the Club World Cup.
The Copa Libertadores champions, who fought in the starting stages before rallying, which is after the break, will fight either Mexico’s Monterrey in Saturday’s or European champions Liverpool final.
“I don’t get to pick the opponent, I don’t care, both teams have the excellence to get to the final,” said Flamengo’s Portuguese coach Jorge Jesus.
“Whoever triumphs that semi-final, Saturday is going to be one of the most important matches of my career,” he added.
Asian Champions League champions Al Hilal, who finished with ten men, were bright and creative from the outset and should have gone in front in the 16th minute. Still, Bafetimbi Gomis put the ball over the bar from a promising position.
After two minutes, the Saudi side came through when, after a quick pullback, a low shot from Salem Al Dawsari took a deflection off Flamengo defender Pablo Mari and flew into the roof of the net.
Romanian Razvan Lucescu trained Al Hilal, who looked full of confidence and with former Juventus forward Sebastian Giovinco making space with his active movement, Flamengo was enjoying at the back.
Still, there is a switch in information from their Portuguese coach Jesus during the break paid immediate dividends, and they got back on level terms four minutes after the break when Uruguayan Giorgian De Arrascaeta tapped in after a smart cutback from the impressive Bruno Henrique.
Bruno Henrique then put the Brazilians ahead, meeting an excellent Rafinha cross with a large header at the near post.
It was Bruno Henrique who made the third goal, putting the outcome past doubt, as his low cross was turned into his net by Ali Albulayhi.
Al Hilal’s Peruvian midfielder Andre Carrillo was sent off in the 84th minute after an unpleasant, over the top, challenge on De Arrascaeta.
“I talked to our players and gave them orders at halftime,” said Jesus. “As a trainer, you have to be always alert, and I saw the way they were playing. We played good in the second half.” Lucescu felt his side paid the price for not making the most of their initial pressure after catching the Brazilians cold.
“I don’t know if we astonished them, but we controlled the game, and played very well. We shaped opportunities, and then they started to understand it will be a very tough game. I think the key of the game was that period when we didn’t get one more goal,” he said.
“I am upset with result but proud of an eccentric performance in the first half,” he said.
Liverpool and Monterrey play against each other at the same venue on Wednesday in the other semi-final.
Earlier, Tunisia’s Esperance defeated Qatari side Al Sadd 6-2 to entitlement fifth place with Libyan forward Hamdou Elhounis gripping a hat-trick.