A brace from Luis Suarez and a Lionel Messi strike saw Barcelona claim their third FIFA Club World Cup crown with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over River Plate in Yokohama.
There was no doubt that the champions of Europe deserved to win the match and consequently the tournament with an immaculate all-round display. And while the forward line of MSN, Messi, Suarez and Neymar, will rightfully get the plaudits, Claudio Bravo and Gerard Pique, in particular, did their jobs well to keep the clean sheet.
Alarm bells began to ring for River as early as the 12th minute. Andres Iniesta played a great ball to Messi inside the box. He produced a great shot on the turn which forced an equally good stop from Marcelo Barovero who saved low to his left. The keeper was called into action midway through the half when he claimed Dani Alves’ shot comfortably.
The longer the half remained goalless, the more River’s confidence grew and half chances came. Rodrigo Mora fired a shot from 30 yards which was straight at Claudio Bravo and then Lucas Alario’s shot from the edge of the ‘D’ saw the Barça stopper claim it easily to his right.
Missing from the semi-final with abdominal pain, Messi began to have more of an impact on the game. His well-struck free-kick from 35 yards, was expertly turned away for a corner. However, Barovero was powerless to stop the opening goal nine minutes before half-time.
Dani Alves swung in a cross from the right which Neymar headed into the path of Messi. He turned Jonatan Maidana the wrong way before poking the ball home. However, the goal did not silence the River Plate fans who gave tremendous backing to their team throughout the match.
Suarez almost made it 2-0 on the stroke of half-time after Messi played a perfect pass through to the Uruguayan. He ran on to it well to split the defence, but when faced with the onrushing Barovero, he fired wide.
However, the forward made amends four minutes after the break when this time he made no mistake after being presented with a one-on-one opportunity. Great credit must go to Sergio Busquets who won possession before playing a perfect ball for the former Liverpool man.
After the goal, Barcelona threatened to run riot. Neymar teed up Messi on two separate occasions. Both should have yielded goals. The first chance saw Messi fire tamely at Barovero and the second saw him fire wide when he could have easily squared to Suarez.
Another lovely move from Barça made it three. A fantastic ball from Neymar found Suarez in the box and he headed home for his fifth goal in the tournament in just two games.
River Plate had their first chance of the half when Bravo tipped the ball acrobatically over from Lucas Alario’s header. The Chilean had to be at his best in the closing stages to tip a powerful drive from Osvaldo Martinez on to the post. The team and their fans did not show wanting, but they fell short on this occasion.