Bafetimbi Gomis

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Club World Cup: Flamengo into final, 10-man Al Sadd pummeled

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It seems the Brazilian side was somewhat surprised by the level of competition they faced, but Flamengo mounted a comeback to earn a place in the Club World Cup final with a 3-1 win over Saudi side Al Hilal in Qatar.

Flamengo appeared caught off guard in the early going, conceding a number of good chances at the back. Former Swansea City striker Bafetimbi Gomis missed an absolute sitter 15 minutes in, but his side would take the lead just a few minutes later as Sebastian Giovinco sprung Mohammed Al-Burayk down the right, and instead of taking the obvious cross to Gomis he cut back to Salem Al Dawsari who buried a deflected effort.

Flamengo looked stunned after falling behind early, but began to pour on the pressure. A spectacular challenge from Al-Buyayk was necessary to keep the Brazilians out on the half-hour mark, and while Al Hilal they made it to halftime with a deserving lead, they coughed it up moments after the restart. Bruno Henrique was sprung down the right edge of the penalty area and his cutback was on hand for Giorgian de Arrascaeta.

With the game level, Flamengo looked far more confident, and they finally drew level 12 minutes from full-time as Bruno Henrique delivered a bullet header from Rafinha’s cross. The cherry on top was an own goal by Ali Albulayhi who slid in to block a Bruno Henrique cross, and Peruvian forward Andre Carrillo was harshly sent off in the final five minutes for a tackle over the ball, leaving Al Hilal with 10 men.

In the early match of the day, host club Al Sadd was blasted by Tunisian side Esperance Sportive de Tunis 6-2 after falling a man down just 24 minutes in. Hassan Abdelkarim was the guilty party, using his arm to stop a shot on the goal line. With the hosts already down 2-0 at the time, the floodgates opened at the back.

Anice Badri completed his brace with the ensuing penalty that arose from the handball incident, and Hamdou Elhouni would secure a hat-trick before the day was done. The Qataris were impressively still a threat in front of net despite the man disadvantage, able to put six of their eight shots on target and score twice after the red card, but it ultimately wouldn’t be enough as Esperance claimed fifth place in the competition with the victory.

Club World Cup semifinal preview: Liverpool aims for 1st world title

Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images
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Liverpool’s quest to become the second Premier League club to win the Club World Cup begins Wednesday in Qatar against Liga MX side Monterrey.

The Reds hope to join 2008 winners Manchester United as the lone English winners of the 19-year-old tournament. Liverpool (2005) and Chelsea (2012) have also lost CWC finals.

[ MORE: Champions League draw analysis ]

The tournament crown has belonged in European hands since Corinthians surprised Chelsea in 2012.

The Reds are nearly -1000 favorites to beat Monterrey and the world will expect a tournament crown for the Premier League side, to be sure.

They’ve added Sepp van den Berg, Ki-Jana Hoever, and Harvey Elliott to the team following injuries to Dejan Lovren and Rhian Brewster.

Liverpool play Monterrey at 12:30 p.m. ET Wednesday, 24 hours after fellow favorites Flamengo meet up with Saudi side Al-Hilal.

Here’s a quick roundup of the other three competitors.

Monterrey

The most immediate threat to Jurgen Klopp‘s goals comes in the form of CONCACAF Champions League-winning Rayados. Leonel Vangioni scored a marvelous goal to lead the Liga MX side past Al-Sadd in the quarterfinal. Former Spurs flop Vincent Janssen is in the club, as are familiar faces Miguel Layun (Watford) and Rogelio Funes Mori (River Plate).

Al-Hilal

The Saudi club got here by beating Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds in the Asian Champions League, with Sebastian Giovinco and Bafetimbi Gomis leading the way. Gomis scored the lone goal of a quarterfinal defeat of Esperance Tunis, set up by ex-Watford man Andre Carrillo.

Flamengo

The Rio-based South American champions are led by Gabriel Barbosa, who is on loan from Inter Milan and scoring at will. Longtime Schalke and Bayern Munich man Rafinha is on the squad, as is former Chelsea man Filipe Luis. Diego Alves (Valencia) is the man between the posts.

Giovinco, Gomes lead Al-Hilal to Asian Champions League title

Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images
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Familiar names Bafetimbi Gomis and Sebastian Giovinco are now Asian Champions League winners after Al-Hilal outlasted Urawa Red Diamonds 2-0 Sunday, giving the Saudi Arabia club its third ACL title with a 3-0 aggregate victory.

Gomis (goal) and Giovinco (assist) were involved in the scoring, with the latter setting up Saudi Arabia international Salem Al-Dawsari for the opener.

[ MORE: Everton struggles in focus ]

It’s Al-Hilal’s first crown since 2000, the Saudi side re-joining Pohang Steelers as the most successful club in the competition.

Japanese side Urawa was bidding to win its third title and second in three years.

Former Watford man Andre Carrillo scored in the 1-0 first leg.

Toronto FC sells Sebastian Giovinco to Al-Hilal

AP Photo/Adam Hunger
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An all-time MLS great is leaving the league.

Toronto FC has sold Sebastian Giovinco to Al-Hilal, ending the Italian’s torrential time in Major League Soccer.

It’s not hyperbole to say that Giovinco helped reshape the image of MLS.

[ MORE: Vancouver signs new DP ]

TFC general manager Ali Curtis called Giovinco “any GM’s dream” and addressed the challenges of replacing him via TorontoFC.ca:

“We believe in consistency, so this transfer hits hard in a lot of places. I have so much respect for Sebastian as a player and what he has meant to the organization. His departure presents both challenges and opportunities. Obviously, replacing a player like Sebastian is difficult, but we are working diligently and are confident that we will be adding a new Designated Player in the near future who will be an exciting addition to our team.”

Now 32, Giovinco arrived at TFC from Juventus in 2015 and debuted at the age of 28. He led TFC to its first MLS Cup, scoring 83 goals with 51 assists in 142 matches.

Toronto was 1W-5L without Giovinco last season, missing the MLS Playoffs by 14 points.

Giovinco was a force in the club’s run to the CONCACAF Champions League Final, spearheaded their Canadian Championship win, and managed 18 goals and 14 assists in 38 matches across all competitions.

The move does open a Designated Player spot for new Reds general manager Ali Curtis.

Al-Hilal is the home of ex-Premier League players Andre Carrillo and Bafetimbi Gomis.

Giovinco out, Boyd in at Toronto FC?

AP Photo/Michael Probst
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Sebastian Giovinco has one year left on his Toronto FC contract, but also wants his next contract sorted quickly.

That may mean a move abroad, as the Italian wizard considers interest from Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal.

Selling Giovinco would allow TFC to cash in on their star, and may also prod Jozy Altidore to the door — Liga MX? — ahead of a new contract as Ali Curtis reshapes the championship team reared by Tim Bezbatchenko.

Al-Hilal is managed by former Benfica and Sporting Lisbon boss Jorge Jesus, and has Bafetimbi Gomis, Andre Carrillo, and Jonathan Soriano on the books.

The move comes as Toronto is linked with oft-injured Darmstadt striker Terrence Boyd. The Reds acquired the top spot in the allocation order from FC Cincinnati this week in a trade for Nick Hagglund, and USMNT striker Boyd is believed to require allocation to arrive in MLS.

Boyd, 27, was one of the top American talents abroad when he sealed a 2014 move to RB Leipzig following a standout pair of seasons at Rapid Wien, but has played just 43 times for RBL and Darmstadt.

He scored four times in 24 Bundesliga matches during the club’s 2017-18 relegation campaign, but counts just one appearance of more than 15 minutes amongst his 13 times on the field for the 2.Bundesliga side.

Boyd was last capped in 2016.

Make sure to tune-in for our special Transfer Deadline Day show on NBCSN on Thursday, Jan. 31 from 5 p.m. ET as we focus on all of the moves across the Premier League in the January window. You can stream the show live online right here.