Liverpool secured their second trophy in the 2019-20 season on Saturday, lifting the Club World Cup in Qatar after a hard-fought 1-0 win over Flamengo.
It was a long-awaited first triumph in the competition – including their previous appearances in the Intercontinental Cup – as Jurgen Klopp managed to achieve what club legends Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan and Rafael Benitez found a step too far during their respective tenures on Merseyside.
Having scored a dramatic late winner in the semi-final, Roberto Firmino was once again on target for the Reds on Saturday. The Brazil international crushed the hopes of his compatriots in the first period of extra time, converting Sadio Mane’s pass.
After their success in Doha, we look back at Liverpool’s previous near misses – and how those seasons panned out once they returned home.
WE’RE CLUB WORLD CHAMPIONS!! pic.twitter.com/stSfr4NvR7
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) December 21, 2019
1981: FLAMENGO LEAD REDS A MERRY DANCE
Having opted not to play in the 1978 fixture, the Reds travelled to Tokyo three years later to face Copa Libertadores holders Flamengo.
Liverpool had secured their place in the game by lifting the European Cup in May, Alan Kennedy the unlikely hero with the only goal in a 1-0 triumph over Real Madrid. The full-back left it late too, collecting a throw-in from Ray Kennedy before ghosting into the penalty area to beat goalkeeper Agustin Rodriguez in the 82nd minute.
However, Paisley’s star-studded team were no match for their Brazilian opponents, losing 3-0. Flamengo did all the scoring in the first half, Nunes’ brace sandwiching a goal from Adilio.
Liverpool lost their first game back following their journey to Japan, going down 3-1 to Manchester City on December 26, but still went on to be crowned champions, finishing four points clear of Ipswich Town. They also lifted the League Cup, recording a 3-1 triumph over Tottenham at Wembley thanks to two goals from Ronnie Whelan.
1984: INDEPENDIENTE STRIKE EARLY
Fagan was in charge for Liverpool’s fourth European Cup win, sealed on penalties at the expense of Roma. The shoot-out will forever be synonymous with Bruce Grobbelaar and his spaghetti legs, the goalkeeper deploying wobbly limbs in an attempt to put off opponents as they approached the spot.
The tactic may well have worked as three players missed for the Italians, allowing Kennedy to once again make a telling contribution in a final, the defender converting the winning kick.
They were back in Tokyo again before the end of the year, this time Independiente their opponents. The Argentine club grabbed an early lead through Jose Percudani in the sixth minute and defended resolutely for the remainder of the contest.
Liverpool finished a distant second to neighbours Everton in the league, while also losing 1-0 to Juventus in a European Cup final overshadowed by crowd trouble at Heysel Stadium. Fagan would retire after the Reds finished a campaign without silverware for the first time in a decade.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) December 21, 2019
2005: SAO PAULO DENY BENITEZ AND CO.
FIFA had merged the Intercontinental Cup and Club World Championship by 2005, giving us the modern format with more participants involved.
Liverpool were involved again thanks to one of the most memorable European nights in their storied history, with Benitez’s team rallying from three goals down at half-time against Milan to complete what will forever be known as the ‘Miracle of Istanbul’.
Jerzy Dudek was one of the heroes – channelling his inner Grobbelaar during the shoot-out – but he was no longer first-choice goalkeeper by December, demoted following the arrival of Pepe Reina.
The Reds eased past Costa Rican opponents Saprissa in the semi-final but would lose to Sao Paulo, Mineiro – who would go on to have a forgettable spell at Chelsea – scoring the solitary goal of the game in 27th minute.
Still, Benitez’s squad did secure silverware in 2005-06, lifting the FA Cup in Cardiff after Steven Gerrard produced a long-range stunner to force extra time against West Ham. As for the Premier League, they finished third, nine points behind champions Chelsea.
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