Gutsy Flamengo beat Al Hilal 3-1
Gutsy Flamengo Beat Al Hilal 3-1

Flamengo’s Bruno Henrique (right) scores their second goal against Al Hilal during their FIFA Club World Cup semi-final at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha yesterday. Pic: Mohamed Farag

Striker Bruno Henrique played a pivotal role to help Flamengo rally from a goal down to script a 3-1 win over Al Hilal 3-1 in the semi-final of the FIFA Club World Cup here yesterday at the Khalifa International Stadium.

With thumping win the Brazilians set up a likely clash with Liverpool in the final, the English giants take to the field against Monterrey in the second semi-final today at the same venue, which will also host the final on December 21.

The Brazilian scored one goal and had a hand in two other goals that were credited against his team’s name on the score sheet.

Henrique scored in the 78th minute while he set up Uruguayan striker Giorgian de Aarrascaeta to score in the 49th minute and in the 82nd minute; he saw his goal mouth cross deflected into his own goal by Hilal defender Ali Al Bulayhi.

Flamengo will now play Monterrey or Liverpool in the final on December 21.

Coach Jorge Jesus’ side was trailing by a goal at the end of half time play and did not have anything spectacular to offer in terms of moves or shots at goals.

The Asian champions Al Hilal had beaten Esperance Sportive de Tunis 1-0 to reach the semi-finals and they gave a good account of themselves leaving the Brazilin defence clueless on several occasions.

The reigning Copa Libertadores champions were caught off guard when they conceded a goal in the 18th minute by Salem Al Dawsari.

The Al Hilal midfielder darted into the area and meets a clever pull back to plants a shot past the helpless Diego Alves, who could not do much about it.

Flamengo were expected to walk this and coach Jesus had to do some thinking to do at half time. The Saudis have been dangerous on the break and except for the few early jittery moments were fairly confident in their defending.

Flamengo started on an impressive note in the second half.

Three minutes after the change of ends, the Brazilian came with a threatening move initiated by Gabriel Barbosa, who whipped a cross towards Henrique but Al Mayouf dived full to thwart the move.

A minute later, a glorious, sweeping move from Flamengo got them the equaliser. Three first time passes and the ball ended in the back of the nets.

Henrique was put through on goal, but rather than shoot, he unselfishly cuts the ball back across goal for the unmarked De Arrascaeta to tap home into the open goal, 1-1.

An early first half goal seemed to have served as a tonic for Flamengo needed and sowed the seeds of doubt into Al Hilal’s game plan.

Flamengo attacked with renewed vigour after the goal but Al Hilal kept the attacks at bay.

At the other hand, Al Hilal’s Andre Carrillo drilled his try over the bar in the 55th minute.

Thereafter the game got a bit scrappy and a bit snarky in midfield with the referee Ismail Elfath of USA having a busy time in keeping tempers in check.

In the 69th minute, Sebastian Giovinco, who got a free kick on the edge of the box for Hilal, ended up curling wide and that will be his last touch as he was replaced by Omar Khrbin.

From there on the game has hit a bit of a flat spot with neither side wanting to give anything away, until the Brazilians struck two goals within a span of four minutes.

Flamengo took the lead in the 78th minute and added their third goal of the match in the 82 minute to take the game away from the Saudi Arabian side.

Flamengo which used the flank to rip open the defense, Rafinha, the former Bayern Munich player ran down the right flank and curled a beautiful cross for Henrique, who beat his marker to nod home into the net.

That’s an assist and goal in the second half for the 28-year-old.

The third goal was a bit harsh for the Al Hilal defender Al Bulaihi, as he ended up guiding Henrique cross into his own goal.

The Asian champions suffered another blow with six minutes left for the final whistle when former Watford loanee Andre Carrillo was sent off for a horrible tackle.

Carrillo took an almighty swipe at the ball and catches a Flamengo player on the shin. He and the Al Hilal players protest but the referee was left with little choice there.

If the third goal didn’t kill the game dead, the red card certainly did with Al Hilal hardly able to make an impact in the last few minutes of the match.

But captain Carlos Eduardo was not the one to give up and he ran down the left flank forced a smart save from Alves.