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Barcelona 3 River Plate 0: Suarez double inspires Barca to third global crown

Luis Suarez concluded his mastery of the Club World Cup as Barcelona collected their third global crown with a 3-0 final victory over River Plate.

Suarez scored a semi-final hat-trick as Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao were brushed aside and – joined once more by his forward allies Lionel Messi and Neymar – the Uruguayan star netted a second-half brace.

Messi, who missed the semi through illness, opened the scoring as Luis Enrique’s team recovered from an uncertain opening to establish the control and dominance that has already secured La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League titles during 2015.

Neymar had to settle for a pair of assists on his return from a groin problem as Barcelona’s formidable array of attacking talents made them the first club to win three Club World Cups, following successful 2009 and 2011 campaigns.

River ambitiously sought to push their illustrious opponents back during the opening stages, with Gerard Pique forced to head a dangerous cross from Tabare Viudez over his own crossbar.

Barca rode out the early pressure and the returning Messi drew a stunning save from River goalkeeper Marcelo Barovero after his initial 11th-minute shot was blocked.

A rash lunge from Jordi Alba on Carlos Sanchez earned a booking for the Barcelona full-back and demonstrated that Luis Enrique’s team were yet to fully settle.

Rodrigo Mora and Lucas Alario tested Barca keeper Claudio Bravo from distance before Messi had a free-kick tipped around the post.

Despite continuing to struggle for their customary fluency, Barcelona broke the deadlock through their talisman in the 36th minute.

Neymar found himself in the slightly unusual role of rising at the back post to nod down a Dani Alves cross and Messi controlled the bouncing ball to prod past Barovero.

Messi turned provider on the stroke of half-time, threading a crisp throughball into the path of Suarez.

But the striker, who netted a semi-final hat-trick, misjudged his finish and began a trudge towards the tunnel with his shirt covering his face.

Despair turned to delight for Suarez four minutes into the second half as he scampered on to Sergio Busquets’ excellent first-time pass and blasted a finish through Barovero

River, who had been bolstered by the half-time introduction of Pity Martinez and Lucho Gonzalez in place of the booked Leonardo Ponzio and Mora, were visibly rattled and Messi spared Barovero with a tame finish before having a shot hacked from the goalmouth by Jonathan Maidana.

The River keeper was then out to thwart Suarez before the hour after Eder Alvarez Balanta completed an inch-perfect tackle on the rampaging Neymar and Messi slotted his latest effort wide.

A succession of fouls proved the Argentinian side’s best second-half tactic in slowing the Barcelona charge before Suarez put the result beyond doubt in the 68th minute.

Neymar stood up a perfect cross from the left-edge of the area and Suarez peeled away to place a header inside the near post.

An Alario header gave Bravo a rare piece of late action and Martinez rattled the post from range, but Barca’s latest piece of silverware in a remarkable year arrived in unblemished fashion.

Sun 20 Dec, 2015
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