Jurgen Klopp relieved to avoid extra-time as Liverpool reach Club World Cup final

Roberto Firmino stoppage-time winner sends European champions Liverpool into Saturday's Club World Cup final against Flamengo

Roberto Firmino and Jurgen Klopp during the Club World Cup semi-final against Monterrey 0:58
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was delighted to avoid extra-time in their Club World Cup semi-final against Monterrey and hailed the impact of his substitutes

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was fearful his injury-hit squad would be forced to endure unwanted extra time until substitute Roberto Firmino rescued them with another late goal.

The Reds boss admits he did not see the Brazil international sweep home in the first minute of added time for a 2-1 win over Monterrey in the Club World Cup semi-final as there were too many of his own players preparing to celebrate in front of him.

But he knew it was a crucial goal as it spared his players, many of whom have featured in the majority of the 27 games before this outing in Doha, 30 more minutes of physical exertion - and also killed off the Mexicans' chances of springing a surprise.

Firmino converted a cross from another of Klopp's substitutes Trent Alexander-Arnold for the winner, after Naby Keita's third goal in as many games was quickly cancelled out by Rogelio Funes Mori, twin brother of former Everton defender Ramiro.

Roberto Firmino goal celeb, Monterrey vs Liverpool, Club World Cup semi-final
Image: Roberto Firmino goal celebrates his goal against Monterrey

"I was actually afraid of extra time so I was more than happy that Bobby scored that goal," said Klopp. "We had to do a few changes because we had no other options but we wanted to do some other changes which meant we left Trent, Bobby and Sadio [Mane] off.

"I didn't see it go in because there were so many players in front of me but I saw the reaction of the goalkeeper so I could start celebrating."

On another late, winning intervention, Klopp added: "Staying on track is part of our game so I don't think we can plan it but we should not think it is impossible."

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Monterrey, the CONCACAF Champions League winners, made life difficult for a below-par Liverpool but there were mitigating factors. Illness to Virgil Van Dijk meant Joe Gomez was the only fit centre-back and the hole left by the Dutchman was filled by midfielder Jordan Henderson.

It was far from ideal but Klopp had little option with Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren, Fabinho and Georginio Wijnaldum all injured and youngsters Ki-Jana Hoever and Sepp Van Den Berg en route from England after their Carabao Cup exploits.

Liverpool were disjointed and reliant on goalkeeper Alisson Becker for a number of saves. At the other end Mohamed Salah, relishing playing in front of a mainly Arabic crowd, pulled the strings.

Mo Salah warms up ahead of Liverpool's Club World Cup semi-final
Image: Mohamed Salah warms up ahead of Liverpool's Club World Cup semi-final

"The attention Salah gets in this part of the country is massive and I thought he played sensationally and dealt really well with it," said Klopp.

"Until the last minute he was there for the balls in behind. They tried to defend him with two guys from time to time and be really aggressive. I was really happy with Mo's game."

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