Palmeiras endured more penalty pain as Al Ahly's 3-2 shootout success after a goalless draw clinched third place at the Club World Cup.

Andre-Pierre Gignac's semi-final spot-kick had sent Tigres UANL through to the final at the expense of the Copa Libertadores winners and the margins were even finer in Thursday's play-off.

A dismal stalemate prompted the penalty drama, with the takers scarcely more accurate from 12 yards than they had been in the prior 90 minutes.

Mohamed El-Shenawy saved a straightforward Rony effort and watched Luiz Adriano send a truly dreadful attempt wide, but Weverton's sublime stop from Amr El Soleya and Marwan Mohsen's agonising strike against the post kept the sides all square.

Junior Ajayi's outstanding finish into the top-right corner piled on the pressure, though, and Palmeiras captain Felipe Melo was denied by El-Shenawy.

It was a fitting end to a match in which Melo's defensive error had provided the clearest opening.

He failed in an attempt to chip a pass over Walter Bwalya and then slipped, allowing El Soleya to seize the ball and run clear, only to drag his finish wide.

There was also a sprawling El-Shenawy save from Rony's header before the break.

Weverton was grateful for an offside flag midway through a similarly tame second period as he parried El Soleya's volley straight to substitute Ajayi, whose follow-up effort was struck off.

But penalties were required to separate the sides and again proved Palmeiras' undoing.

Hansi Flick believes success in the Club World Cup will be "very special" as he closes in on a sixth trophy in just 68 matches as Bayern Munich coach.

Bayern comfortably dealt with CAF Champions League winners Al Ahly in their semi-final on Monday, with Robert Lewandowski getting both goals in a 2-0 win.

The Polish striker, who moved to 29 goals for the season with that brace, made it 1-0 in the 17th minute and eventually put the game beyond Al Ahly in the latter stages, though the Egyptian champions rarely looked a threat to Die Roten.

In Thursday's final Bayern will face Tigres, who defeated Copa Libertadores winners Palmeiras 1-0 on Sunday to become the first CONCACAF side to reach the final of the Club World Cup.

French striker Andre-Pierre Gignac got the winner from the spot against Palmeiras, his sixth successive goal-scoring appearance, and Bayern know they cannot afford to be complacent.

"I watched their semi-final, Tigres are a very dynamic team, very athletic, with a lot of power. We have to counter that well in the final," Flick said when asked about Ricardo Ferretti's team.

"If we win the final on Thursday, the team will have finished an outstanding season with a sixth title.

"That would be a very special success in the successful history of FC Bayern. We now have to collect ourselves as quickly as possible and recover quickly in order to be able to be again at 100 per cent on Thursday."

Thomas Muller echoed the sentiment of his coach, reminding the rest of the Bayern team that their mission still needs to be accomplished.

"We are happy that we did not miss anything and have achieved our [first] goal," he added. "Now we have the chance that we really wanted to work for: winning the Club World Cup."

Bayern won the competition in their only previous participation in 2013.

That was the beginning of streak of European dominance in the Club World Cup, with all six iterations since then won by teams from the continent.

Chelsea were the last European side to lose out in the Club World Cup in 2012, as they were defeated 1-0 by Corinthians in the final.

Hansi Flick's Bayern Munich reign went from 0-60 at break-neck speed, as within 11 months of being appointing as caretaker boss, he'd essentially won everything.

It was the kind of impact that makes managers club legends, his influence all the more notable given the how underwhelming performances had been during Niko Kovac's ultimately ill-fated spell at the helm.

All that remains for Flick to win now of course is the Club World Cup, which Bayern will make their return to for the first time since 2013 when they go up against Al Ahly in the semi-finals on Monday.

While Bayern's preparations for the tournament haven't been ideal, given they were only in Bundesliga action on Friday and had their departure significantly delayed, they've arrived in Qatar as clear favourites.

It may well prove a welcome distraction for the time being, with talk over Flick's future beginning to become a minor irritant for all involved.

While the outcome of their efforts in this tournament won't directly lead to Flick leaving, failure will surely see the issue thrust into the spotlight.

An ally's departure

It seems astonishing that there is even a hint of doubt regarding Flick's future at Bayern given the trophies he's won and the swift implementation of a vibrant brand of football.

But with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the club's chairman, set to vacate his position at the end of the season, reports in Germany suggest Flick will lose his closest ally in the hierarchy.

Additionally, Rummenigge's incoming replacement – Oliver Kahn – is not someone Flick is said to be particularly close with, while his relationship with sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic has been called into question.

Flick eased links with the Germany job last week when he insisted he wouldn't leave Bayern "for that", but considering his strong impact on Bayern in a short period of time, the German Football Federation won't be the only interested party if the 55-year-old decides to move later this year.

Clashing over signings

Much of the speculation relating to Flick's supposedly poor relationship with those above him is centred on Salihamidzic, the man in charge of the signings. Even if the rumours are wide of the mark, it's easy to see why there might be disagreements.

None of Bayern's pre-season signings can claim to have tied down a regular place in the starting XI this season, not even Leroy Sane, who has made just nine Bundesliga starts.

Marc Roca and Bouna Sarr have played just six times between them, Douglas Costa has started three league games and Alexander Nubel – perhaps unsurprisingly – hasn't ousted Manuel Neuer between the posts.

But it goes back further than that. Lucas Hernandez, an €80million purchase in 2019, is still not a regular pick in defence (10 starts this season) despite such a significant outlay.

In the case of Sane, he is proving to be less effective as a creative outlet than all of his fellow wingers in the Bayern squad, with his 1.6 chances created per 90 minutes fewer than Costa (1.7), Serge Gnabry (1.9) and Kingsley Coman (2.4).

If Rummenigge's departure leaves Flick without significant backing higher up, perhaps he'll opt to jump before he's pushed.

The distraction

Regardless of what happens in Qatar, or in the remaining months of the season for that matter, Flick will have a CV unlike many other managers in the game should he take the opportunity to follow Rummenigge out of the door.

They enjoyed a clean sweep last season with their Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League treble, before adding UEFA Super Cup and DFL-Supercup at the start of 2020-21.

The Club World Cup is the only one that remains, and if they manage to lift the trophy it will be Flick's sixth title in 68 champions – that's one every 11 matches on average.

It's hardly make or break, with this competition arguably inconsequential when it comes to Bayern's major targets at the start of the season.

But from Flick's perspective, the opportunity to complete the set is one he won't want to pass up.

Bayern Munich's preparations for their Club World Cup campaign may not have been ideal but head coach Hansi Flick will not use a seven-hour travel delay as an excuse against Al Ahly. 

Bayern boarded a plane for Doha immediately after Friday's 1-0 victory over Hertha Berlin but did not depart until the following morning after their clearance for take-off was denied. 

The European champions eventually left for the Middle East on Saturday morning and were unable to train when arriving at their destination. 

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge hit out at the local authorities in Berlin for "mucking about" ahead of Monday's semi-final against Al Ahly. 

However, Flick's squad were able to train on the eve of the game and the Bayern boss is ready for the showdown with the reigning CAF Champions League holders. 

"It's not the best preparation, without question," he said at a news conference on Sunday. "Ultimately, the decisive factor is we arrived safely and won't allow any excuses.  

"Of course, it would have been better if we could have arrived sooner. But this morning we did what was planned for yesterday.  

"This afternoon we will have the final training session and will prepare the team for tomorrow's game.

"We will go through the same process as every game. We have an analysis department that prepares information on each opponent for us. 

"The coaches then do the final preparations. We know that they are very offensive with their full-backs and have an impressive coach, whose approach I like very much." 

Bayern are seeking to win the Club World Cup for a second time, having last prevailed in 2013 when beating Raja Casablanca in the final. 

They secured a domestic treble last season and lifted the DFL-Supercup and UEFA Super Cup earlier in this campaign, but Flick insists his players are still hungry to win more trophies. 

"In football, you set goals and then you move on," he said. "We have won five titles and yet you can tell that the team and the coaching team want to take the next step.  

"Success is a process, everyone is involved. We have a very good mentality in the team. They handled the journey very professionally and want to tackle the next goal. 

"We really wanted to play the tournament and it is also our goal to win this tournament. We know that it is associated with a certain burden.  

"But we want to be motivated and it is a big goal to crown the outstanding season with the sixth title. Our goal is to become the best team in the world. 

"The journey yesterday is a thing of the past, we were ready in time. It wasn't nice, but we are looking ahead.  

"The team should use all their strength today so that we can win the semi-final tomorrow move into the final." 

Bayern made the trip to Doha without midfield pair Leon Goretzka and Javi Martinez, who both recently tested positive for coronavirus. 

Opponents Al Ahly knocked out Al Duhail to advance to the semi-finals.

Leon Goretzka and Javi Martinez were not part of the Bayern Munich squad that departed for the Club World Cup on Friday.

Bayern caught a flight to Qatar after their 1-0 victory over Hertha Berlin, which was secured by a deflected first-half strike from Kingsley Coman.

Hansi Flick's side kept a clean sheet thanks to Manuel Neuer's seven saves but they looked vulnerable on the counterattack with Joshua Kimmich anchoring the midfield alone at the Olympiastadion.

Goretzka and Martinez were absent following positive coronavirus tests and they did not travel to Doha with their team-mates.

"We have to look from day to day how things are going for both of them," Flick said.

"Leon is looking a little better, Javi will probably not make it. If not for the first game, then maybe for the second."

Bayern take on Al Ahly on Monday and will contest either the third-place play-off or the final against Palmeiras or Tigres UANL three days later.

The European champions left Germany after opening a 10-point advantage at the Bundesliga summit, though a missed penalty from Robert Lewandowski in the first half against Hertha meant the match was tighter than expected.

"You could tell it would be fiercely contested. Pal Dardai's team fight for every square centimetre," Thomas Muller, who set up Coman to become the first player to reach double figures for goals and assists in the Bundesliga this season, told DAZN.

"We should definitely have scored one or two more goals, so it was a close run thing in the end.

"You can't celebrate in every game. What is striking is that the clean sheet is becoming more and more common."

Bayern Munich will face Al Ahly in the semi-finals of the Club World Cup after the African champions knocked out home favourites Al Duhail on Thursday. 

The clash at Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan was settled by a fine strike from Hussein El Shahat 30 minutes in, the winger finding the bottom-left corner from the edge of the box after Bassam Hisham had lost possession. 

Walter Bwalya, who forced the defensive error, tucked away a composed finish but saw the goal disallowed for offside following a VAR review. 

Qatari champions Al Duhail improved after the break, but Pitso Mosimane's men were relatively comfortable as they saw out the 1-0 victory. 

Al Ahly will meet Bayern on Monday as the European champions bid to win the tournament for the second time. 

The other semi-final will see Copa Libertadores holders Palmeiras face Tigres, who defeated Ulsan Hyundai 2-1 in the earlier game. 

The K League 1 side, who won their second AFC Champions League in 2020, went ahead through Kim Kee-hee's 24th-minute header. 

Andre-Pierre Gignac equalised from close range and Tigres' all-time leading goalscorer made it 2-1 from the penalty spot just before half-time. 

The CONCACAF champions will be back in action against Palmeiras on Monday.

Bayern Munich will face either Al-Duhail or Al Ahly in their Club World Cup semi-final on February 8.

The competition's draw took place on Tuesday in Zurich and confirmed European champions Bayern will tackle hosts Al-Duhail or CAF Champions League holders Al Ahly.

Al-Duhail secured their qualification as hosts by winning the Qatar Stars League in 2019-20, with no Qatari side managing to win the AFC Champions League.

Egyptian giants Al Ahly won African club football's biggest prize in November and qualified for the Club World Cup for the sixth time, having last appeared in 2013, which was also Bayern's only previous appearance.

Al-Duhail received a walkover into the second round after Auckland City, who had been nominated as Oceania's representative, pulled out due to coronavirus quarantine measures implemented by authorities in their native New Zealand.

The other second-round clash drawn on Tuesday will see AFC Champions League winners Ulsan Hyundai face CONCACAF champions Tigres of Mexico, who are making their first appearance.

Tigres or Ulsan will go forward from that tie to play the Copa Libertadores champions – Santos and Palmeiras are due to face off in an all-Brazilian final of that competition on January 30.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.