Saudi Arabian giants Al-Hilal managed to make history on Tuesday night as they edged out Brazilian powerhouses Flamengo 3-2 to book their spot in the 2022 FIFA Club World Cup final at the Ibn Batouta Stadium in Tangier, Morocco.
As the AFC Champions League couldn’t be completed before the end of 2022, the AFC decided to nominate 2021 champions Al-Hilal to take part in the 2022 Club World Cup, while Flamengo earned their place in the tournament after winning the 2022 Copa Libertadores.
While Flamengo received a bye to the semifinals, Al-Hilal had to squeeze past Moroccan and African champions Wydad Casablanca to set up a rematch of the 2019 semifinal match between the two, which Flamengo won 3-1.
Salem Al-Dawsari, who gained international attention after helping Saudi Arabia beat eventual champions Argentina in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, opened the scoring with a fourth minute penalty which was given after Flamengo’s Matheuszinho tripped Al-Hilal’s Luciano Vietto in the area.
Pedro’s close-ranged effort in the 20th minute brought the scores level, however, Flamengo found themselves down to ten men at the end of the first half after Gerson received a second yellow card following a stomp on former Villarreal man Vietto.
Al-Dawsari calmly slotted home the ensuring penalty to ensure that Al-Hilal would regain their lead at the end of the first half.
The second half saw the Al-Dawsari-Vietto combo being reversed in the 70th minute, with Al-Dawsari swinging in the ball towards Vietto who smashed home Al-Hilal’s third of the match.
Pedro once again came to Flamengo’s aid by completing his brace in the first minute of injury time but by then it was too little too late as Al-Hilal, who maintained control of the match throughout the second half, hung onto the win and with it, a ticket to the Club World Cup final.
Facing off against either Spanish giants Real Madrid or Egyptian titans Al-Ahly in February 11th’s final in Rabat, Al-Hilal are the third Asian team to reach the Club World Cup final after Japan’s Kashima Antlers in 2016 and Al-Ain of the United Arab Emirates in 2018, as well as the first Saudi team to reach said stage.