Manchester City have set up a Club World Cup final against Brazilian side Fluminense after cruising to a 3-0 win over Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds despite their early struggles at the King Abdullah Sports City stadium in Jeddah.
The European champions were frustrated by a well-organised Japanese side during the opening half but took the lead with an own goal by Marius Hoibraten in stoppage time on Tuesday night’s second semifinal.
Keep readinglist of 4 items
Mateo Kovacic made it 2-0 in the 52nd minute with his first goal since joining City from Chelsea and Bernardo Silva’s deflected shot a few minutes later meant City could play the rest of the game in cruise control.
Pep Guardiola’s City, who had won only three of their previous eight games in all competitions, are looking to become the fourth English club to win the title after Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea.
“The players know how important it is for the club,” Guardiola, who won the title twice with Barcelona and once with Bayern Munich, said.
“To be in this final, you have to do incredible things, like win the Champions League. This may be the only time we play this in our lifetime.
“We will try to win the title we don’t have to complete the circle.”
City have suffered some domestic wobbles of late and have slipped off the pace in the Premier League in their quest for a fourth successive title.
But even with Erling Haaland still missing and Guardiola shuffling his pack after Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace, they had far too much for the J1 League side.
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) December 19, 2023
Favourites for world title
They will start as heavy favourites in Friday’s final against Copa Libertadores champions Fluminense who on Monday beat Egypt’s Al Ahly 2-0.
Fluminense and Al Ahly presented a throwback look at a competition dominated for two decades by the wealthiest European clubs who have hired waves of global talent.
A team of 11 South Americans, including nine Brazilians, started against 11 Africans, including nine from Egypt, for the Cairo club.
Veteran Brazil internationals Marcelo – a five-time Champions League winner with Real Madrid – and Felipe Melo are being rewarded again for coming home from long careers in Europe to enjoy late-career blooms with the Copa Libertadores winner.
Urawa Red Diamonds will face Al Ahly in the third-place playoff on Friday.