Man City cruise past Fluminense in Club World Cup final to lift fifth trophy in 2023

AP , Friday 22 Dec 2023

Manchester City was just too good and a bit lucky for overmatched Fluminense in the Club World Cup final by winning 4-0 and taking a fifth title in 2023 on Friday.

Manchester City vs Fluminense
Fluminense's Brazilian goalkeeper #01 Fabio concedes the second goal during the FIFA Club World Cup 2023 football final match between England's Manchester City and Brazil's Fluminense at King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in Jeddah on December 22, 2023. Photo: AFP

 

City led after just 40 seconds to make it a match mostly free of tension. Julián Álvarez followed up fastest to meet a rebound off a post from Nathan Ake’s shot.

An own goal in the 27th by Fluminense captain Nino decided the game long before Phil Foden's goal in the 72nd, guiding an Alvarez pass into an open net. Alvarez struck again in the 88th.

It gave City their first Club World Cup title and Europe 16th in 17 editions of FIFA's competition for continental champions.

City cruised to a second easy win in four balmy days in Saudi Arabia even without injured superstars Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne. They also missed City's semifinal win over Urawa Red Diamonds on Tuesday.

Their expected absences could help explain the empty seats among a crowd of 52,601 at King Abdullah Sports City, the Jeddah stadium which is planned to be used at the 2034 World Cup.

The victory made Pep Guardiola the first coach to win the Club World Cup with three different teams. He led Barcelona to titles in 2009 and 2011, then Bayern Munich in 2013 with a team that won the Champions League under outgoing coach Jupp Heynckes.

Guardiola celebrated calmly by walking across to console Fluminense coach Fernando Diniz with a handshake and arm on his shoulder.

At the same time, a melee broke out between players in the Fluminense half of the field.

Fluminense started with six players born in the 1980s, and bristled with perceived disrespect when told on Thursday of British media drawing attention to the age of its veteran team. City’s oldest player in the starting lineup, 33-year-old captain Kyle Walker, was born in May 1990.

Fluminense’s most celebrated player, Marcelo, exited after one hour to warm applause and a handshake on the touchline with City substitute Mateo Kovacic, his former teammate at Real Madrid.

One of Marcelo’s first touches in the game was an unwise long pass from defense that let Ake advance in space to shoot.

Alvarez was alone in the goalmouth to stoop and score with his chest. The Argentina forward’s first action had been to take a sturdy shove in the back from 40-year-old Felipe Melo's aerial challenge.

The bounce of the ball was unkind again to Fluminense when Nino slid in to block Foden’s pass across the goalmouth, and the ball looped beyond goalkeeper Fabio’s reach. The attack came from a piercing change of pace in Rodri’s pass to Foden.

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