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Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal Upsets Flamengo 3-2 to Reach Club World Cup Final

Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal Upsets Flamengo 3-2 to Reach Club World Cup Final

Wednesday, 8 February, 2023 - 06:45
Football - Club World Cup - Semi Final - Flamengo v Al Hilal - Grand Stade de Tanger, Tangier, Morocco - February 7, 2023 Al Hilal's Salem Al-Dawsari celebrates scoring their second goal. (Reuters)

Saudi striker Salem Al-Dawsari was once again on the scoreboard in a big match.

Al-Dawsari, who scored the winner in Saudi Arabia's 2-1 upset of Argentina at the World Cup, converted two penalties to help Al-Hilal beat Brazilian club Flamengo 3-2 in the Club World Cup semifinal on Tuesday.

The Saudi Arabian champion will play either Real Madrid or Egypt's Al Ahly in Saturday's final. It's the first time the club has advanced this far.

"This is to history, Hilal," the club said on Twitter. "Look where we are!"

Al-Hilal opened the scoring from the spot in the fourth minute with Al-Dawsari after Luciano Vietto was fouled.

But Flamengo soon picked up its pace and equalized when Pedro, who was also at the World Cup with Brazil, scored in the 20th minute on a crossed shot that gently slid past the goalkeeper.

The Copa Libertadores champion continued to pressure, but a video assisted decision dramatically changed the encounter in first-half stoppage time.

Vietto once again fell in the penalty box and the referees later saw a touch from Gerson knocking him down. The Brazilian was sent off after a second yellow and Al-Dawsari calmly added a second for the Saudis.

Flamengo coach Vitor Pereira, who took the job in January, replaced the team's star midfielder Giorgián de Arrascaeta with Erick Pulgar, a player of more defensive positioning. His strategy did not work and the Saudis came back strong in the second half.

Minutes after Al-Hilal hit Flamengo's crossbar, Vietto added a third in the 74th minute with a blast from close range to make it 3-1.

Pedro scored Flamengo's second in stoppage time, but that was the last shot on goal for the Brazilians.

"We could not come back," midfielder Everton Ribeiro told journalists after the match. "It will be a tough moment for us, a moment of criticism, but it will be another challenge for us to overcome."

The two teams also met in the same phase in 2019, with Flamengo winning 3-1 before losing the final to Liverpool 1-0.

The last time a non-European club won the Club World Cup was in 2012, when Brazil's Corinthians beat Chelsea 1-0 in Japan.

Minister of Sports and Chairman of the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal congratulated the Kingdom’s leadership on Al-Hilal's victory.

In a press statement, he said the victory is a “tangible confirmation of the great distinction that Saudi sports has recently experienced due to the generous and unlimited support extended by our prudent leadership and the follow-up and interest of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in preparing all means and capabilities for our sports to continue its advance locally, regionally and globally.”

He also congratulated the Board of Directors of Al-Hilal, the technical and administrative staff, the players, and all sports fans on this historic achievement.

He announced a financial reward of 500,000 riyals for each Al-Hilal player on the achievement, wishing them victory in the final.

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