Saudi Arabian giants Al Hilal have upset Flamengo to become the first Asian team to qualify for the Club World Cup final since 2018.
Al Hilal downed the Copa Libertadores winners 3-2 in Tangier, Morocco, with Salm Al Dawsari netting a double.
The Saudi Arabian outfit were only entered as AFC’s representative as the 2021 Asian Champions League winner, with the 2022 edition still not completed.
Brazilian powerhouse Flamengo had entered the game as favourites, having dominated the Copa Libertadores where they beat Athletico Paranaense 1-0 in the final in October.
Al Dawsari opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the fourth minute, with Pedro equalising in the 20th minute for Flamengo.
But Al Hilal won another spotkick deep into first-half stoppage time after a VAR check with Gerson sent off, before Al Dawsari converted.
Luciano Vietto, who won both penalties, added a third in the 70th minute, with Pedro netting a consolation in the 91st minute.
“Flamengo was surprised by our quality and by how prepared we were, mentally and strategically,” Al Hilal coach Ramon Diaz told reporters.
However, Flamengo boss Vitor Pereira blamed the officiating for the defeat, making them the fourth Brazilian side to lose a semi-final in history of the event.
“We were ready to play Al Hilal but were not ready for a refereeing that was not up to the standards of the competition,” he said.
“There was a very big lack of criteria, it was provocative refereeing and if it weren’t for the personality of our players, I’m convinced that we would end the game with more red cards.”
Al Hilal will play either European champions Real Madrid or African champions Al Ahly in the final on Wednesday.
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