FIFA has confirmed the Club World Cup will take place in February 2021, rather than December this year.

The annual event, which is being staged in Qatar, is traditionally held at the end of the year and had been scheduled to begin next month.

However, FIFA said that is not feasible because of "the disruptive effect of the pandemic on the confederations' continental club championships that serve as a pathway for the event".

It will instead be staged from February 1 to February 11.

European champions Bayern Munich and Al-Duhail, the 2019-20 Qatar Stars League winners, are the only confirmed participants so far.

The 2021 tournament will be the last before the expanded competition, which is due to replace the Confederations Cup on the football calendar, is first held in China.

FIFA also confirmed the 2020 Under-20 and Under-17 Women's World Cups have been cancelled after stakeholders raised concerns about staging the tournaments.

The events had been postponed until early next year because of the impact of the pandemic.

FIFA said the 2020 hosts – Costa Rica for the Under-20 tournament and India for the Under-17s – will now have hosting rights moved to the 2022 competitions.

Barcelona have accepted an invitation to join a proposed new European Super League, according to outgoing president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

Bartomeu made the announcement on Tuesday in a speech confirming he and Barca's board of directors are resigning.

"We accept entry into a European Super League of football clubs," he said. "This acceptance will have to be ratified by the next assembly. We have also approved the format of the new Club World Cup.

"The European Super League will make it so the club can remain being one of the members."

A report from Sky Sports last week claimed Liverpool and Manchester United were leading talks around the prospect of a new FIFA-backed tournament featuring the world's biggest clubs.

It was claimed more than a dozen teams from England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain were in negotiations to become founder members of a possible European Premier League backed by $6billion (£4.6billion) of funding.

Bartomeu's comments made it clear that Barca are one such club to have been approached to join the proposed competition, which could start as early as 2022 and comprise home and away fixtures between 18 teams.

Any final decision would have to be ratified by a vote held by the next Barca president and board of directors.

In his speech, Bartomeu did not state whether Barca's involvement in any new such competition would lead to them withdrawing from LaLiga or the Champions League.

The new Club World Cup was scheduled to begin next year, in place of the traditional pre-World Cup tournament, the Confederations Cup, with FIFA expanding the tournament to 24 teams and China selected as host.

The coronavirus pandemic means the event is likely to be pushed back until at least 2022, however.

Bartomeu's admission that Barca have accepted the plans for the new tournament is at odds with the view of the European Club Association (ECA), which last year produced a letter insisting "no ECA clubs would take part".

Writing on Twitter on Tuesday after Bartomeu's resignation speech, LaLiga president Javier Tebas said: "Unlucky Bartomeu, announcing on the final day participation in a phantom competition that would be the ruin of Barcelona, and ratifies his ignorance in the football industry.

"A sad end for a president who had success and, in the end, errors."

Luis Suarez's trophy-laden association with Barcelona came to an end on Wednesday as he joined LaLiga rivals Atletico Madrid.

Suarez celebrated countless titles after swapping Premier League giants Liverpool for Barcelona in 2014, while establishing himself as a Blaugrana great.

During his time at Camp Nou, Suarez formed part of Barca's famed 'MSN' alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar before it was broken up three years ago.

As Suarez prepares for life in the Spanish capital, we look at the 33-year-old's Barca career in numbers.

 

13 – Suarez departs Catalonia having won no less than 13 pieces of silverware in a Barca jersey. Among his haul are four LaLiga titles, the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, Club World Cup, four Copa del Rey triumphs and a pair of Supercopa de Espana honours.

283 – The Uruguay international was a mainstay in Barca's starting XI, amassing just under 300 appearances.

198 – Only two players in Barca's history have scored more goals than Suarez – Messi (634) and Cesar (232). Of those goals, 147 were in LaLiga from just 191 matches. He also netted 25 Champions League goals.

1 – He opened his goalscoring account for Barca in his sixth game. A Champions League encounter against APOEL in November 2014 set the tone for Suarez.

59 – In his second year at Barca in 2015-16, Suarez earned the Golden Shoe as Europe's top scorer thanks to 40 LaLiga goals and 59 across all competitions.

114 – Suarez reached a century of Barca league goals quicker than anyone else in the team's history – needing just 114 games – in January 2018.

97 – Not only a prolific goalscorer, Suarez provided plenty of support up front. The veteran contributed close to a century of assists in Barcelona.

Another week, another Lionel Messi milestone.

The Barcelona forward has scored his 700th career goal just a little over two years since reaching 600 for club and country.

It's another remarkable feat for a footballer who continues to break new ground after turning 33.

Here, we look at the details behind the incredible numbers to see when, where and how he tends to find the net, who likes to set him up, and who is sick of the sight of him...

 

FOR BARCELONA:

- Messi has scored 630 goals in 724 appearances for Barca in all competitions - that's 0.87 per game on average. 

- His first goal came on May 1, 2005 against Albacete in LaLiga. Since then, he has reached 441 goals in 480 matches in Spain's top flight, at least 130 more than any other player in history.

- He has scored 114 goals in the Champions League, 53 in the Copa del Rey, 14 in the Supercopa de Espana, three in the UEFA Super Cup, and five in the Club World Cup.

 

FOR ARGENTINA:

- Messi has scored 70 senior international goals. His first came on March 1, 2006 in a friendly against Croatia, and his most recent was in a friendly last November against Uruguay.

- He has scored 34 goals in international friendlies, 21 in World Cup qualifiers, nine at the Copa America, and six at the World Cup.

 

PER YEAR:

- In each of the past 11 calendar years, Messi has scored at least 40 goals for club and country. In nine of the last 10, he has reached at least 50.

- His best record in a single year came in 2012, when he scored 91, breaking the previous record of 85 held by Germany great Gerd Muller. He already has 12 in 2020, despite the COVID-19 disruption.

 

HIS FAVOURITE OPPONENT:

- Messi has scored 37 goals in 39 games against Sevilla in all competitions. Next up are Atletico Madrid (32 in 41 games).

- He has managed 26 in 43 games against Real Madrid, making him the all-time top goalscorer in Clasico history.

- Messi has faced 40 different LaLiga teams and scored at least once against 37 of them. Last November, he became the first player to score against 34 different Champions League opponents, surpassing Cristiano Ronaldo and Raul on 33.

 

HIS LEAST FAVOURITE OPPONENT:

- Only three LaLiga teams have ever avoided conceding a goal to Messi: Xerez, Real Murcia and Cadiz.

- Xerez are the only team Messi has faced more than once without scoring. He has played against them twice.

 

WHEN AND HOW HE SCORES:

- Messi has scored 43.32 per cent of his goals in the last 15 minutes of the first half or last 15 minutes of the second.

- He has scored 142 times from set-pieces: 90 penalties and 52 free-kicks.

- Only 24 of his career goals are headers. The most recent was back in March 2017 against Sporting Gijon. 

- Messi has scored 83.1 per cent of his goals (582) with his left foot, and 82.8 per cent (580) from inside the box.

- He has scored 36 LaLiga hat-tricks, which is a record. He has scored three or more times in 54 different matches, the most being five against Bayer Leverkusen in March 2012.

- His tally of 50 for the 2011-12 LaLiga season is a record.

 

WHO SETS HIM UP:

- Luis Suarez has assisted more Messi goals than any other player: 47 in six seasons with Barcelona. Messi has returned the favour 36 times. (CHECK WHO SETS UP ATHLETIC GOAL)

- The other players with the most assists for Messi are Dani Alves (42), Andres Iniesta (37), Xavi (31), Pedro (25), Neymar (22) and Jordi Alba (20).

- Messi has 247 assists for Barca. Since his first goal for the club, he has been involved in 879 of their 2,183 goals in all competitions, or 40.2 per cent.

Picking out the best bits from the career of Andres Iniesta is rather like trying to get the ball off him. It's damnably difficult.

Still, to mark the former Spain and Barcelona star's 36th birthday, we have selected 10 truly top moments from one of the 21st century's finest footballers.

These have been chosen from among his career highlights with Barca and the national team, so, Vissel Kobe fans, we must apologise.

Enjoy a stroll down memory lane to look at 'The Artist' and his finest work...

2006: FINAL SUPER-SUB

Iniesta later admitted his "blood was boiling" when he learned he was on the bench for the 2006 Champions League final against Arsenal.

With Barca 1-0 down at half-time, Frank Rijkaard moved to rectify that error by introducing the midfielder for Edmilson. It proved pivotal.

Fellow subs Henrik Larsson and Juliano Belletti, along with Samuel Eto'o, might have provided the telling touches to secure a 2-1 victory, but it was Iniesta's arrival that catalysed the comeback. Future team-mate Thierry Henry, who was in that Arsenal side, recalled: "The person who really killed me was Andres. When he comes on, everything changes."

 

2009: INIESTAZO AT STAMFORD BRIDGE

Chelsea fans might remember this Champions League semi-final second leg for a string of questionable refereeing decisions, but there is one moment that will forever stay with Barca fans.

The Catalans were moments from going out to a Michael Essien strike, but Iniesta's thumping effort from outside the box in the third minute of injury time sent them through on away goals.

Barca went on to beat Manchester United in the final and win the treble in Pep Guardiola's first season in charge. Iniesta's goal made it all possible.

2010: WORLD CUP GLORY

Iniesta recalled his winning goal in extra time of the 2010 World Cup final as a moment of clarity, when it seemed as though the world drifted into slow motion.

That feeling of calm was a far cry from the year leading up to the tournament, in which the player struggled badly with mental and emotional concerns despite his success on the pitch. "It was like nothing was right," he recalled in his book, The Artist: Being Iniesta.

The loss of his friend Dani Jarque in 2009 - the Espanyol defender who died at just 26 years old - had deeply affected Iniesta, and it was only fitting he celebrated securing Spain's first World Cup by pulling off his shirt to reveal a message beneath reading: "Dani Jarque, always with us."

2010: A CLASICO FOR THE AGES

Guardiola's Barca reached their peak in 2010-11 and arguably their greatest performance came in November 2010 against Real Madrid.

Jose Mourinho's first taste of the Clasico as Madrid coach ended in a 5-0 battering at Camp Nou in which Iniesta, Xavi and Sergio Busquets utterly dominated proceedings.

He was not among the goals - Xavi (from Iniesta's pass), Pedro, David Villa (twice) and Jeffren were on the scoresheet - but Iniesta's display underlined his position as one of the world's best midfielders in the finest team on the planet.

2011: UNITED BACK ON THE CAROUSEL

Alex Ferguson famously compared facing a midfield of Xavi and Iniesta to being stuck on a carousel after Barca beat United 2-0 in the 2009 Champions League final.

Two years later, Guardiola's men led the Red Devils on an even dizzier dance, winning 3-1 at Wembley to secure another European triumph. Such was Xavi, Busquets and Iniesta's control over events that even Ferguson could find no complaints over the scoreline.

"They do mesmerise you with the way they pass it," he said. "I would say they're the best team we've faced. Everyone acknowledges that and I accept that. It's not easy when you've been well beaten like that to think another way. No one has given us a hiding like that. It's a great moment for them."

 

2011: A WORLD RUN BY MIDFIELDERS

At the 2011 Club World Cup, Barca went into the final against Santos with David Villa injured and Pedro on the bench. Guardiola's solution? Let's midfield them to death.

Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas and Thiago Alcantara (oh, and Dani Alves) all lined up behind Lionel Messi in a 3-4-3. It gave Barca a grip on the game that never loosened.

Messi (twice), Xavi and Fabregas scored in a 4-0 win in which Barca had 71 per cent possession and a young Neymar was given a glimpse of his future. Iniesta, the beating heart of the side, described the performance as "unique... it was something to remember and enjoy".

 

2012: THE BEST IN EUROPE

Iniesta was part of the Spain side that won Euro 2008 under Luis Aragones before Vicente del Bosque led them to World Cup glory. Two years later, one of the great modern eras of international football was secured as they defended their continental crown, dispatching Italy 4-0 in the final in Kiev.

Del Bosque's team comprised six midfielders and no strikers, a remarkable line-up that represented the zenith of tiki-taka football, where technical mastery of pass-and-move play trumped all else and the classic number nine was rendered obsolete. It was the footballing equivalent of a guitar band deciding guitars aren't cool any more.

Iniesta was named man of the match, player of the tournament, and crowned UEFA's Best Player in Europe later that year.

2015: CHAMPIONS LEAGUE HISTORY

Another former Barca player in his first season as head coach, another treble, and another Iniesta assist on a big stage.

Luis Enrique's Barca took the lead against Juventus in Berlin through Ivan Rakitic after four minutes, as Iniesta became the first player to assist a goal in three different Champions League finals.

Alvaro Morata equalised but Luis Suarez and Neymar secured a 3-1 victory, as Iniesta claimed another man-of-the-match prize in a major final.

2015: THE SANTIAGO BERNABEU STANDS AS ONE

Iniesta is one of the few Spanish players who is generally admired throughout rival fan bases and territories - even among Real Madrid supporters.

In the Clasico of November 2015, Barca destroyed Madrid on home turf with a 4-0 victory in which Iniesta set up Neymar for a goal and scored a stunner himself.

Such was the supremacy of Iniesta that day - with Lionel Messi out injured - that the Bernabeu gave him a standing ovation as he left the pitch in the 77th minute. Only two other Barca players had ever been accorded such an honour: Ronaldinho, and Diego Maradona.

2018: THE INIESTA FINAL

Iniesta had not yet confirmed he would be leaving Barca at the end of 2017-18, but he made sure to provide the perfect curtain call anyway.

Having played a reduced role for much of the season, Iniesta seemed to have been saving himself for a last hurrah: the Copa del Rey final against Sevilla.

Although nearly 34, he looked at the peak of his powers, dictating the game at his own tempo as Barca cantered to a 5-0 win.

He even scored the goal of the game - exchanging passes with Messi, dummying the keeper and firing home - before yet another ovation serenaded his teary-eyed exit from the last major final he would play for the club he joined as a 12-year-old.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino warned football will be "different" when it returns, and it says it is impossible to know when leagues will resume.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought the majority of the football world to a standstill as governments across the globe attempt to tackle the outbreak of COVID-19, with close to one million confirmed cases across the world and over 52,000 people having died after testing positive for the virus.

Last week, FIFA chief Infantino conducted an interview with La Gazetta dello Sport in which he pondered the possibility of reforming football with fewer competitions to try to cope with the disruption to the calendar.

Addressing the 72nd Ordinary CONMEBOL Congress during a speech via videolink, Infantino stressed the message that tackling the coronavirus crisis remains the most pressing concern.

"Football is not the most important thing, health comes first and should remain our priority until this sickness has been defeated," he said.

"The world is facing new challenges and we have to stay together and work as a team. This is the lesson that football can give: to work as a team.

"Tomorrow we all would like to see football again, but we don't know when we will be able to resume playing and no one around the world knows when we will be able to play like before.

"It is very important that football follows the instructions of the health authorities and governments, and it is very important that football gives a good example, because it's clear that no match is more important than a human life.

"This we need to clearly have in our minds, while at the same time... working with confidence and thinking positively towards the future.

"We have to look ahead and can't remain passive as [the coronavirus] will affect us. Both our world and our sport will be different once we return to normality.

"It is our responsibility as football administrators, first of all to ensure football can survive and secondly move forward once again. This is not only our responsibility but also our obligation."

Sergio Ramos has won it all for Real Madrid and Spain.

From the World Cup to the Champions League, the Madrid and Spain captain has a full trophy cabinet.

As Ramos celebrates his 34th birthday on Monday, we look at what the former Sevilla defender has achieved since moving to the Santiago Bernabeu in 2005.

 

1 – Ramos helped Spain win their first World Cup in 2010. Playing as a right-back, with Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique the centre-back pairing – Ramos was crucial in Spain keeping five clean sheets in South Africa. It is his only World Cup title to date.

2 – Spain's most-capped player has two European Championship trophies to his name – Euro 2008 and Euro 2012. Ramos returned to the heart of Spain's defence for their title defence in 2012, partnering Puyol. Ramos also has a pair of Copa del Rey (2011 and 2014) successes.

4 – Not many can boast four Champions League winners' medals, but Ramos can. The face of Madrid, Ramos hoisted the coveted piece of silverware aloft in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018. Ramos forced extra time in the 2014 decider against Atletico Madrid as Madrid claimed 'La Decima'. He also scored in the 2016 final versus the same opponent, captaining Madrid to a remarkable three successive Champions League crowns. Just like Europe's premier club competition, Ramos has celebrated four LaLiga triumphs. He won titles under Fabio Capello (2007), Bernd Schuster (2008), Jose Mourinho (2012) and Zinedine Zidane (2017). He has also won as many Club World Cup (2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018) and Supercopa de Espana (2008, 2012, 2017 and 2019-20) finals.

3 – Ramos and Madrid dominated the UEFA Super Cup between 2014 and 2017, winning the trophy three times. He scored in the 2016 final against former club Sevilla.

21 – The amount of trophies Ramos has won as a Madrid player. Paco Gento holds the record at the Bernabeu with 23.

170 – Ramos is the most-capped player in Spain history. He surpassed former Madrid and international team-mate Iker Casillas in October after earning his 168th cap.

640 – Since swapping Sevilla for Madrid, Ramos has appeared in almost 700 games for the capital club. He is fifth on the all-time list, behind leader Raul (741).

20 – Ramos holds the all-time record for most red cards in LaLiga. In total, the Spaniard has been sent off 26 times across all competitions. He has four dismissals in the Champions League – equalled for the competition's record.

President Gianni Infantino has suggested FIFA could "reform football by taking a step backwards" after the coronavirus pandemic.

The sport has been halted in a bid to slow the spread of the virus, which has over 345,000 confirmed cases and almost 15,000 deaths worldwide.

Europe's top five leagues have been suspended, while Euro 2020 and the 2020 Copa America have been pushed back 12 months.

Infantino sees the pause in play as an opportunity to assess the future of the game, though.

Leading managers - most notably Jurgen Klopp - have long bemoaned a packed scheduled, and the FIFA chief has highlighted the possibility of cutting back on some competitions.

"Perhaps we can reform football by taking a step backwards," Infantino told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"[There would be] fewer but more interesting competitions, maybe fewer teams but for a better balance, fewer but more competitive matches to preserve players' health."

Meanwhile, Infantino confirmed FIFA's revamped 24-team Club World Cup - initially set for 2021 - would have to be rescheduled due to the changing international calendar.

"We will have to move the Club World Cup," he acknowledged. "We will see if the new format will have its first edition in 2021, 2022 or 2023."

Football's immediate focus is on completing ongoing club campaigns.

Infantino insists all leagues will follow the World Health Organisation's (WHO) guidance, and FIFA is looking at altering contracts set to expire in June to allow for the potential prolongment of the season.

"We will start again when there is no longer any risk to health," he said. "Nothing says that will be in April or May.

"Federations and leagues are ready to follow WHO recommendations.

"We are thinking of modifying the statutes of contracts and making temporary derogations to extend their duration, initially scheduled until June 30."

Alisson hailed the importance of Roberto Firmino to Liverpool after the forward's winning goal against Flamengo in the Club World Cup final.

Firmino netted two winners in as many games for the European champions at the tournament, which Liverpool won for the first time thanks to Saturday's 1-0 victory.

The 28-year-old is often questioned due to his lack of goals – he has six this season – despite his vital contributions, but Brazil team-mate Alisson talked up his importance.

"We know and he knows how important he is for the team. And we value him a lot. I think he is one of the most important players for us," the goalkeeper said.

"He doesn't just score, but he assists too. He makes the team play from behind, he helps us a lot and makes a difference.

"We are really happy and I am really happy that he could score, it's important for a striker to score and I'm really happy for everybody and this title."

Liverpool needed extra time to get past Flamengo, with Firmino netting the only goal in the 99th minute.

Divock Origi, who replaced Firmino during extra time, also hailed his fellow forward.

"'Bobby' is an amazing player. He showed it again, the finishing for me was top class and it helped us win the game," he said.

"I told him after the game I'm very happy for him."

Liverpool, who are 10 points clear and have a game in hand in the Premier League, visit second-placed Leicester City on Thursday.

Gabriel Barbosa was unwilling to discuss his future just yet after Flamengo's Club World Cup final defeat to Liverpool on Saturday.

Gabriel played 120 minutes as Flamengo suffered a 1-0 extra-time loss to the European champions in Doha.

The forward is on loan from Inter, but that deal expires at the end of the year and the 23-year-old has been linked with a move to West Ham in January.

Speaking after the defeat, Gabriel said he would eventually reveal his future.

"We played as equals against Liverpool. We had some chances to score. We obviously suffered, but now I'm on vacation," he said.

"I will enjoy this and slowly talk about my future."

Roberto Firmino's 99th-minute goal was all that separated Liverpool and Flamengo at the Khalifa International Stadium.

Gabriel praised his team's performance despite the loss, saying they had their opportunities.

"I think we had a great game, we had a chance to score and we didn't, but we played and fought against a great team," he said.

"Obviously we didn't get the goals but we created chances and until the last minute they ended up scoring. It was a great game."

Gabriel scored 43 goals in 59 games in all competitions for Flamengo after joining on loan in January this year.

Jurgen Klopp paid tribute to his Liverpool team following their Club World Cup triumph over Flamengo, claiming he has difficulty putting his respect for his players into words.

Liverpool were pitted against Copa Libertadores champions Flamengo in Saturday's final in Doha.

The score remained goalless at the end of the regulation 90 minutes, but Roberto Firmino finally ended his compatriots' resistance in the 99th minute.

Despite Flamengo enjoying some late pressure, Liverpool held on to secure a first triumph in the competition, and Klopp found it difficult to describe his feelings.

"I struggle to find the words to express my respect for the boys, it was incredible. We did so many good things," Klopp told reporters in Doha.

"I saw so many sensationally good performances and I am really happy. I think we deserved the win. We were the better side.

"In the deciding moments we had a really good goalkeeper and in the other moments we were the dominant team, so I am really happy.

"It was a very intense game for different reasons; it was not our best game we have ever played, but it was enough to win.

"This was a wonderful night for the club. I said before I didn't know how it would feel. Now I know it feels outstanding, absolutely sensational. I am so proud of the boys."

It was the latest example of Liverpool clinching a victory thanks to a late goal, with it becoming something of a habit for the Reds.

Klopp puts it down to belief.

"It looks like a strength," he said. "We don't want to have [the late goals], but they are necessary as it was level in the game.

"They were all very important like tonight. When you start believing, you believe for the 90 or 120 minutes. We believe in a chance."

Liverpool return to action in the Premier League on Boxing Day when they travel to second-placed Leicester City, who were unable to close the gap at the top on Saturday as they were beaten 3-1 at Manchester City.

The Reds, who have a game in hand over the Foxes and reigning champions City, are 10 points clear.

Liverpool secured their second trophy in the 2019-20 season on Saturday, lifting the Club World Cup in Qatar after a hard-fought 1-0 win over Flamengo.

It was a long-awaited first triumph in the competition - including their previous appearances in the Intercontinental Cup - as Jurgen Klopp managed to achieve what club legends Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan and Rafael Benitez found a step too far during their respective tenures on Merseyside.

Having scored a dramatic late winner in the semi-final, Roberto Firmino was once again on target for the Reds on Saturday. The Brazil international crushed the hopes of his compatriots in the first period of extra time, converting Sadio Mane's pass.

After their success in Doha, we look back at Liverpool's previous near misses - and how those seasons panned out once they returned home.

 

1981: FLAMENGO LEAD REDS A MERRY DANCE

Having opted not to play in the 1978 fixture, the Reds travelled to Tokyo three years later to face Copa Libertadores holders Flamengo.

Liverpool had secured their place in the game by lifting the European Cup in May, Alan Kennedy the unlikely hero with the only goal in a 1-0 triumph over Real Madrid. The full-back left it late too, collecting a throw-in from Ray Kennedy before ghosting into the penalty area to beat goalkeeper Agustin Rodriguez in the 82nd minute.

However, Paisley's star-studded team were no match for their Brazilian opponents, losing 3-0. Flamengo did all the scoring in the first half, Nunes' brace sandwiching a goal from Adilio.

Liverpool lost their first game back following their journey to Japan, going down 3-1 to Manchester City on December 26, but still went on to be crowned champions, finishing four points clear of Ipswich Town. They also lifted the League Cup, recording a 3-1 triumph over Tottenham at Wembley thanks to two goals from Ronnie Whelan.

 

1984: INDEPENDIENTE STRIKE EARLY

Fagan was in charge for Liverpool's fourth European Cup win, sealed on penalties at the expense of Roma. The shoot-out will forever be synonymous with Bruce Grobbelaar and his spaghetti legs, the goalkeeper deploying wobbly limbs in an attempt to put off opponents as they approached the spot. 

The tactic may well have worked as three players missed for the Italians, allowing Kennedy to once again make a telling contribution in a final, the defender converting the winning kick.

They were back in Tokyo again before the end of the year, this time Independiente their opponents. The Argentine club grabbed an early lead through Jose Percudani in the sixth minute and defended resolutely for the remainder of the contest.

Liverpool finished a distant second to neighbours Everton in the league, while also losing 1-0 to Juventus in a European Cup final overshadowed by crowd trouble at Heysel Stadium. Fagan would retire after the Reds finished a campaign without silverware for the first time in a decade.


2005: SAO PAULO DENY BENITEZ AND CO. 

FIFA had merged the Intercontinental Cup and Club World Championship by 2005, giving us the modern format with more participants involved.

Liverpool were involved again thanks to one of the most memorable European nights in their storied history, with Benitez's team rallying from three goals down at half-time against Milan to complete what will forever be known as the 'Miracle of Istanbul'. 

Jerzy Dudek was one of the heroes - channelling his inner Grobbelaar during the shoot-out - but he was no longer first-choice goalkeeper by December, demoted following the arrival of Pepe Reina.

The Reds eased past Costa Rican opponents Saprissa in the semi-final but would lose to Sao Paulo, Mineiro - who would go on to have a forgettable spell at Chelsea - scoring the solitary goal of the game in 27th minute.

Still, Benitez's squad did secure silverware in 2005-06, lifting the FA Cup in Cardiff after Steven Gerrard produced a long-range stunner to force extra time against West Ham. As for the Premier League, they finished third, nine points behind champions Chelsea.

Jordan Henderson is keen for Liverpool to keep improving after winning the Club World Cup for the first time with a 1-0 victory over Flamengo in Doha.

Reds captain Henderson was in inspirational form as the Premier League leaders became world champions on Saturday, adding to their European crown from June courtesy of an extra-time Roberto Firmino strike.

Liverpool have become renowned for late goals under Jurgen Klopp, and it was no different on this occasion as Firmino netted in the 99th minute, having passed up big chances as early as 40 seconds in.

Henderson lauded his side, telling BBC Sport: "We have found a way for a long time now, some late goals.

"We just want to keep going, onto the next game, onto the next performance, keep improving. We keep our feet on the ground and keep working hard and keep putting in performances like that."

Assessing the final, in which Flamengo also threatened and should have equalised through substitute Lincoln, Henderson said: "It feels very good. It was an interesting game.

"I am sure it was interesting to watch, but we kept going, good performance and the mentality again shone through.

"We should have scored a couple more, but we defended really well. Overall, we're delighted with the result and the performance in difficult conditions.

"Fair play to the lads - they kept going right until the end and got the goal in extra time."

Roberto Firmino struck in extra time to claim a first Club World Cup title for European champions Liverpool as they beat Flamengo 1-0 in Doha on Saturday.

A tightly contested final should have been settled by Firmino long before the 99th minute, but the usually reliable forward twice missed the target when well placed.

Liverpool also had a last-gasp penalty award struck off in normal time following a VAR review, giving Flamengo - victors over the Reds in the 1981 Intercontinental Cup final - a lifeline.

However, the Premier League leaders dominated the additional period, and Firmino finally found the net to tee up yet more celebrations on Merseyside.

Liverpool scored inside two minutes of June's Champions League final, and Firmino should have put them in front after just 40 seconds on Saturday, lifting his finish over the crossbar after breaching the Flamengo back-line.

Naby Keita was similarly wasteful when Jordan Henderson freed Mohamed Salah to tee up the midfielder, before Trent Alexander-Arnold drilled wide in an extremely positive start for Jurgen Klopp's side.

After toiling for the remainder of the first half, Firmino again should have netted at the start of the second, brilliantly lifting the ball over Rodrigo Caio but slamming left-footed into the left-hand post.

Salah stabbed wide as another Liverpool flurry continued, yet Gabriel Barbosa then had two sights of goal in quick succession and tested compatriot Alisson with the second.

While Liverpool were dealt a blow as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain hobbled off after landing awkwardly, Henderson almost stole victory with an 86th-minute curling try that was touched over by Diego Alves.

There was still room for late drama before extra time, as referee Abdulrahman Al Jassim initially awarded a stoppage-time spot-kick against Rafinha for a foul on Sadio Mane, only to then assess the incident on the pitchside monitor and reverse his decision.

It was a reprieve that lasted only nine minutes into extra time, when Henderson set clear Mane, who squared for the composed Firmino to sit down goalkeeper Alves and rifle into the net.

Salah was denied a swift second by Alves, and substitute Lincoln should have got Flamengo back on level terms in the 119th minute, instead blazing over in front of goal to ensure Klopp's side the title.

 

What does it mean? Christmas cheer for new world champions

Liverpool's wait for a domestic league title may have extended into a 30th year, but 2019 has been hugely successful for the club.

After holding Tottenham at bay in the Champions League final, their class eventually told against tricky foes Flamengo, too. Meanwhile, Leicester City lost at Manchester City, meaning Klopp's men will be 10 points clear at the Premier League summit at Christmas with a game in hand. The coming 12 months should be equally exciting for those of a red persuasion.

Heroic Henderson the man for the big occasion

Captain Henderson was an inspirational figure in the attritional Champions League triumph against Spurs, and he was key again in this final.

The England international was tireless in the middle of midfield but also showed his quality on the ball, playing some wonderful passes from deep - including one that led to the winner.

Controversial late call not costly for Reds

Firmino passed up glaring opportunities at the start of either half in normal time, but Liverpool undoubtedly would have focused their ire on the officials had they fallen short in the additional 30 minutes.

Replays suggested there was contact from Rafinha as Mane missed his kick and, while the foul looked to be just outside the area, meaning Al Jassim was right to overturn the penalty award, the defender surely should have been sent off with a finely poised free-kick given.

What's next?

After this manic week with three matches in five days on two continents, Liverpool return to Premier League action against second-placed Leicester City on Boxing Day. Flamengo's outstanding 2019 season is now over.

Antonio Mohamed says Luis Cardenas "deserves all the credit" for Monterrey's third-place play-off win over Al-Hilal at the Club World Cup after his penalty shoot-out heroics.

Cardenas kept out spot-kicks from Carlos Eduardo and Mohamed Kanno before converting the decisive penalty himself to seal his side's joint-best finish at the tournament.

Monterrey head coach Mohamed was quick to dedicate the victory to his back-up goalkeeper, who came into the side as one of 11 changes from the semi-final loss to Liverpool.

"He deserves all the credit," Mohamed said at his post-match news conference. "We have a tactic for the penalty takers. 

"I gave him the confidence to take it and I'm very happy because the team played with a lot of personality."

Saturday's entertaining match at the Khalifa International Stadium in Qatar finished 2-2 after 90 minutes.

Arturo Gonzalez and Maximiliano Meza scored quickfire goals early in the second half to cancel out Eduardo's 35th-minute opener, but substitute Bafetimbi Gomis headed in to force penalties.

Monterrey matched their third-place finish off 2012 and Mohamed is pleased with the way his side bounced back from their 2-1 loss to Liverpool in the last round.

"The players gave all they could," he said. "The win brings joy to all those who supported us and believed in us.

"We wanted to play in the final, but I said we could win this match and we did it. I am very happy and proud to belong to Monterrey."

Mohamed's opposite number Razvan Lucescu felt his side's schedule was to blame for their 4-3 shoot-out defeat, but was proud of his side's efforts to reach the last four.

"We were unlucky, but at least the match was good for the spectators," he said. "It's a disappointment, even if it wasn't the same feeling playing for third place.

"We tried our best but in the end the fatigue was felt. The players have had a busy program lately. We showed the world what we can do and I still have goals to achieve with Al-Hilal."

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