Flamengo produced a second-half turnaround to reach the Club World Cup final with a 3-1 win over Al Hilal, keeping hopes of a meeting with Liverpool alive.

The Copa Libertadores champions went into Tuesday's clash in Doha as heavy favourites but were well below par in the first half, Salem Al Dawsari putting the Saudi Arabian side on possible course for a shock victory.

However, the AFC Champions League winners faded after the interval as an instrumental performance from Bruno Henrique inspired a Flamengo comeback.

He teed up Giorgian de Arrascaeta for the equaliser soon after the restart and put Flamengo in front with a thumping header 12 minutes from time, before his cross made sure of success when Ali Hadi Albulayhi put through his own net.

Al Hilal then had Andre Carrillo sent off for a reckless challenge, Flamengo seeing out a win that could set up a rematch of their 1981 Intercontinental Cup defeat of Liverpool, who face Monterrey on Wednesday.

Flamengo were given an early warning in the 16th minute when Salem broke free down the left and forced a fine near-post save from Diego Alves. The ball broke to Bafetimbi Gomis, but the striker skied the rebound with an open goal in front of him.

Jorge Jesus' side did not learn their lesson from that scare, however, and Salem beat Alves two minutes later with a deflected strike after impressive work down the right from Mohammed Al-Burayk.

A response never looked like coming in a lacklustre first half from Flamengo, but they needed only three minutes of the second to level matters with a superbly worked team goal.

Gabriel Barbosa - the two-goal hero of their triumph in the Libertadores final - played an incisive pass into the box for Bruno Henrique, who unselfishly squared for De Arrascaeta to tap in.

Abdullah Al-Mayoof's goal was rarely threatened thereafter, but Flamengo found the killer ball in the 78th-minute as Rafinha's excellent right-wing cross was emphatically turned home by Bruno Henrique, who was celebrating again four minutes later.

Albulayhi could do nothing to avoid bundling Bruno Henrique's expertly placed delivery into his own net, with Al Hilal's frustration evident when Carrillo's moment of madness saw him rightly dismissed to end any hope of a dramatic twist in the tale.

Monterrey coach Antonio Mohamed insisted "nothing is impossible" as his side set out to stun Liverpool in the Club World Cup semi-finals.

UEFA Champions League winners Liverpool are heavy favourites to life the Club World Cup for the first time, having been beaten by Sao Paulo in the final back in 2005.

The Reds will be expected to breeze past Monterrey and into the final, but Mohamed is full of belief his team can pull off a seismic upset.

Since Mohamed returned for a second spell in charge in October, Monterrey have not lost a game and are in the final of Liga MX's Apertura tournament - they will contest a two-legged final with Club America this month.

"We have a big ambition to play against Liverpool and we came to compete strongly at this mega-tournament," Mohamed said. "Jurgen Klopp is one of the best managers and Liverpool is maybe the best team in the world right now.

"We have made a huge effort to reach this stage and have come to compete, irrespective of which team or manager we are facing.

"We came here to play and win the match with our weapons.

"We didn't come to participate in this tournament and let Liverpool win against us. Nothing is impossible in football."

Klopp, meanwhile, has significant respect for the threat of Monterrey, having been impressed by the level of football in Mexico following a close-season trip to the country.

Asked about Monterrey by a Mexican journalist at his pre-match media conference in Doha, Klopp said: "I visited your country in the summer, it was my first time in Mexico, it was brilliant.

"We saw them of course and we know about the coach [who] came back and the situation in the league. Since then they didn't lose a game, so they are in a pretty good moment.

"They have a specific way of playing, good players, technically good players. It's just interesting, it's slightly different but, how you can imagine, I don't want to talk too much about tactical stuff because that's the thing we try either way to do or to avoid.

"I was impressed by the things I saw, it was really good football, I always imagined that. Everybody knew a lot of Mexican footballers played in Europe, not only Hugo Sanchez but maybe it started with him.

"They have brilliant footballers – all creative, technical-wise really good. The influence from the south, I would say, pretty emotional, all that stuff, all in involved, that's how it should be. It will be really interesting. We are full of respect for Monterrey and looking forward to the game."


Players to watch

Monterrey - Jonathan Gonzalez

The Bay Area-born midfielder changed his allegiance from United States to Mexico in 2018 and already has three caps for El Tri at the age of 20. Playing in front of the back four in Monterrey's 4-2-3-1, he will likely be tasked with serving as a deep-lying playmaker and with helping to stop the rapid counters on which Liverpool are so dangerous. A huge test for a talented young player.

Liverpool - Virgil van Dijk

With Joel Matip (knee) and Dejan Lovren (muscular problem) not in Qatar because of injury, Liverpool have just two senior centre-backs at their disposal in Van Dijk and Joe Gomez. Van Dijk did not train on Monday, though Klopp insisted his absence was not injury related. He was back with the team for Tuesday's session, and Liverpool will need him to avoid adding to their worries in defence, with 18-year-old Neco Williams the primary deputy behind Van Dijk and Gomez.

Hamdou Elhouni's hat-trick helped ES Tunis to a resounding 6-2 win over Al Sadd in the Club World Cup fifth-place play-off.

Elhouni's treble, plus two goals from Anice Badri and one for Sameh Derbali, sealed a comfortable triumph for the Tunisian side at Doha's Khalifa International Stadium on Tuesday.

Al Sadd played the majority of the contest with 10 men after defender Abdelkarim Hassan was deemed to have blocked a goal-bound shot with his hand.

Baghdad Bounedjah and Hassan Al Haydos salvaged some pride for Al Sadd, both scoring from the penalty spot, but ES Tunis added late goals to extend their margin of victory.

Libya international Elhouni put his side ahead in the sixth minute, then provided an assist for Badri to double the lead.

Al Sadd gave away a penalty after referee Abdelkader Zitouni deemed Hassan had blocked a Badri shot with his hand, the decision made following the use of technology.

Badri confidently dispatched the opportunity from 12 yards to make it 3-0, though Al Sadd reduced the deficit with a penalty of their own, Bounedjah on target after Derbali was felled inside the area.

ES Tunis restored their three-goal cushion shortly before half-time, though, when Elhouni tucked home a loose ball from a tight angle.

Al Sadd gave themselves hope with the third penalty of the match, scored by Al Haydos after Abdelkader Bedrane was fouled.

Elhouni duly completed his hat-trick when he tapped in at the back post, before Derbali rounded out the scoring with three minutes left with an angled finish.

The Club World Cup is "the most important competition in the world at the moment" for Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp, despite the German's concession he does not believe the tournament should be taking place in the middle of the European season.

Liverpool face Monterrey in the semi-final on Wednesday, with the schedule of the tournament leading them to field an inexperienced squad for Tuesday's EFL Cup clash with Aston Villa.

A recent article in British newspaper The Daily Mail suggested Liverpool had their priorities in the wrong order, and that the EFL Cup should be given precedence over a competition the Reds are heavy favourites for.

Asked in a media conference whether there is a lack of respect for the Club World Cup in England, Klopp told a media conference: "I'm not sure, I don't know about respect in England.

"We are here now, we are completely focused on that. If you asked me beforehand if you think there should be a Club World Cup in the middle of our season I would say no, that's my honest opinion.

"We speak about that constantly. The importance is easy, we are here so it's the most important competition in the world for us at this moment."

The format to the Club World Cup will change in 2021, with 24 teams from six confederations taking part in a tournament starting in June. The European Club Association called for European clubs to boycott that competition and Klopp too has significant reservations.

"Can it be an even bigger tournament in future? I think the FIFA plan is a team world cup in the summer, but it's in a summer where the African Cup [of Nations] is as well and there are other competitions as well.

"That doesn't work out, they have to sit together on a table and have to make sure that we have great competitions but not in the same time.

"Obviously a lot of people are interested, I like being here, we want to show up here, we have a lot of fans in this part of the world, they usually have to come to us or follow us at night time if they want to watch our games, so that's nice to become closer from time to time, but from the organisation point of view, everybody needs to think about it. 

"FIFA cannot plan a tournament in the summer and UEFA says 'ok we play one' as well in the same moment and the South American confederation says 'sorry but our tournament is more important'.

"You cannot just add on tournaments, it doesn't work."

Klopp, who will be without midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum because of a hamstring injury, had previously voiced concerns about the pitch at the Khalifa International Stadium, on which a semi-final between Flamengo and Al Hilal and a fifth-place play-off between Al Sadd and ES Tunis will be played on Tuesday.

However, pressed on that issue again he said: "We spoke to our groundsman, it's in a really, really good condition. The training ground was brilliant.

"My concern was from England, I've never been here in this country, but obviously the pitches are brilliant and should be not a proper concern.

"When we arrived on Sunday it was hard raining, where it would be difficult for each pitch but our groundsman said unbelievable, built on sand, which is good news in this case, it took all the water off, so the pitch will be hopefully no concern."

Xavi trusts his Al Sadd side to learn from their mistakes and compete in the future as they attempt to finish their Club World Cup campaign on a high against ES Tunis.

The team representing host country Qatar missed out on a dream semi-final with European champions Liverpool after losing a thriller 3-2 to Monterrey last time out.

Leonel Vangioni and Rogelio Funes Mori goals left Al Sadd chasing the game and, although Baghdad Bounedjah halved the deficit, Carlos Rodriguez restored a two-goal lead to render Abdelkarim Hassan's late effort a mere consolation.

Al Sadd had laboured into that contest with an extra-time win over Hienghene Sport, leaving head coach Xavi to acknowledge his team have room to grow, even if he has been impressed by their attitude.

"The team made big mistakes that cost them the game, but we have to improve - it is part of the game and part of football," the Barcelona great told a news conference ahead of the play-off to determine who will finish fifth. 

"The pressure is on me as a coach, not the team. You cannot learn if you don't make mistakes and I trust them a lot.

"I am satisfied with the performance but not with the result. I am a winner and I want to win. I am pushing my players, but it is not easy.

"It's the best tournament in the world; we have to adjust in the future to progress."

ES Tunis find themselves out of the reckoning after Bafetimbi Gomis fired Al Hilal to a 1-0 victory and a semi-final with Flamengo.

After that game, ES Tunis coach Mouine Chaabani stated he felt the financial disparity between the teams had cost his side but praised his players for their collective showing.

And Xavi is expecting a difficult game, adding: "They are fighters, they are warriors, they have a good coach, a young coach. 

"It will be difficult to win the game but we will be at the same level."

Players to watch

Al Sadd – Akram Afif

While the main goalscoring threat is likely to once again come from Bounedjah, Akram Afif will hope to sign off in style. The forward was named AFC Player of the Year in 2019 and may just make a difference in what could be a tight match.

ES Tunis - Taha Yassine Khenissi

After only appearing as a substitute against Al Hilal, Taha Yassine Khenissi will be hoping to make a mark in Qatar. He has scored 47 league goals since the start of the 2015-16 season.

Flamengo begin their Club World Cup campaign against Al Hilal in Tuesday's semi-final, with coach Jorge Jesus convinced they will prove themselves to be a better team than tournament favourites Liverpool.

Jesus – who coached Al Hilal until January this year – has overseen a wonderful few months for Flamengo since being appointed in June, guiding them to success in the Brasileiro and Copa Libertadores, which booked their place in the Club World Cup, adding to their Campeonato Carioca success prior to the Portuguese boss' arrival.

Flamengo lifted the Libertadores trophy for only the second time in their history thanks to a dramatic 2-1 win over defending champions River Plate last month – star striker Gabriel Barbosa netting twice in the final minutes of the match having crushed fellow Brazilians Gremio 6-1 on aggregate in the semi-finals.

The Rubro-Negro are generally seen as the only credible threat to European champions Liverpool, even if most expect Jurgen Klopp's men to have little trouble bringing the trophy back to Anfield.

But, ahead of Flamengo's semi-final clash with AFC Champions League winners Al Hilal, Jesus has his focus firmly on Liverpool.

"For everyone else, Liverpool are better [than Flamengo]," Jesus told TV Globo.

"What counts the most is for me. Others may think Liverpool are better, but if we get to the final we will see who is better.

"And I believe the best will be Flamengo, but it's the hardest title we'll ever play."

Al Hilal head into Tuesday's clash in strong form having won each of their past five matches across all competitions, including Saturday's 1-0 victory over ES Tunis in their first 2019 Club World Cup match.

Much of the pre-match focus in relation to the Saudi Arabian club has been on the Jesus link given he played a part in the construction of the squad.

But Carlos Eduardo does not think Jesus' familiarity with some of the Al Hilal team will have much significance, as the incumbent Razvan Lucescu is the third coach to take charge of club since the former Benfica boss left 11 months ago.

"For sure, he [Jesus] will try to change things that we know [about him and his tactics], but we're different to his time," the in-form midfielder told reporters. "It'll be totally different. We'll use our weapons for an advantage, he'll use his weapons to try for an advantage.

"The team's style is totally different [to when Jesus was there], so I don't think there's any issue of advantage for any side.

"Almost nothing [is the same], it's a different time, a different team. It's obvious some players could take and learn from their coach, but it's almost an entirely different team."

Lucescu added: "Everyone in the world knows Brazilian football produces a huge quantity of talented players, but football's not just about talent.

"It's about spirit, moments, opportunities the game opens to you. We play with nothing to lose knowing we play one of the best teams in the world."

Player to watch

Flamengo – Reinier

With Barbosa, Everton Ribeiro, Lincoln, Vitinho, Gerson and Giorgian de Arrascaeta at his disposal, Jesus is truly blessed with attacking talent. But one to keep an eye on – not just this week, but over the next few years – is 17-year-old attacking midfielder Reinier. The teenager has enjoyed a rapid rise to prominence and is already being linked with major European clubs, such as Real Madrid and Arsenal. Skilful, a keen goal-scorer and impressively built for a teenager, Reinier could use this tournament as a springboard.

Al Hilal – Gustavo Cuellar

Much like Flamengo, Al Hilal have some solid options in attack with Sebastian Giovinco, Bafetimbi Gomis, Andre Carrillo and Carlos Eduardo. However, it is reasonable to expect the Saudi club to come under more of a defensive examination than the Brazilians, and that is where a familiar face will be expected to give Al Hilal an edge. Colombia international midfielder Cuellar played for Flamengo as recently as August and fills an important role for his new side, sitting just in front of the defence and breaking up attacking moves. His tenacity will be vital if Lucescu's men prevail.

Jurgen Klopp said Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez can play "sensationally well" together amid Liverpool's injuries in defence.

With Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren injured, Van Dijk and Gomez started in the centre of defence in the European champions' 2-0 Premier League win over Watford on Saturday.

Gomez, 22, had been a regular alongside Van Dijk before he suffered a fractured leg in December last year.

Klopp said he had spoken regularly with Gomez and believes the England international's partnership with Van Dijk can flourish.

"We spoke, we spoke a lot," the Liverpool manager told UK newspapers.

"In a very good team, which we obviously are, the train doesn't wait. That means other players showed up, and I don't think anybody thought really we should put Joel on the bench. It is just that the boys are incredibly talented.

"The boy is still young, that is not the reason – it's just that you keep rhythm and you keep players together. But these two, Joe and Virg, they like each other a lot, and they can play sensationally well together."

Gomez and Van Dijk helped their side hold out Watford as Liverpool moved 10 points clear atop the Premier League.

Klopp praised his centre-backs for dealing with tricky conditions and the dangerous Troy Deeney.

"It was an especially difficult game – Deeney – and as you can imagine they play the ball in one direction. The balls that came into Virgil were only because of the wind, all the others came to Joe, and Deeney goes up," he said.

"But from this outstanding skilled boy who has this kind of improvement in these moments, he showed resilience. They all showed again the resilience.

"We really showed again we are ready to fight in each game."

Liverpool visit Aston Villa in an EFL Cup quarter-final on Tuesday, while they take on Monterrey at the Club World Cup a day later.

Georginio Wijnaldum will travel with Liverpool to the Club World Cup despite appearing to injure his hamstring in Saturday's Premier League win over Watford.

The midfielder's participation in Qatar became uncertain after he limped off in the 59th minute of the 2-0 victory at Anfield.

Liverpool confirmed Wijnaldum had suffered a muscle problem but the 29-year-old will still fly out on Sunday as part of a 20-man selection.

Jurgen Klopp will be without defender Dejan Lovren, who has been left behind as he recovers from a muscle issue sustained in the Champions League game against Salzburg.

Young midfielder Harvey Elliott and striker Rhian Brewster have also been trimmed from the initial 23-man squad announced earlier this month.

Liverpool begin the tournament with a semi-final against Mexican side Monterrey in Doha on Wednesday.

Captain and midfielder Jordan Henderson said the European champions had every intention of returning with the silverware.

"Well, we want to go there and win," Henderson told his club's website after the victory over the Hornets. 

"Big games coming up, so we've got to recover well. There's a big game Wednesday and hopefully we can do a job to get into the final on the weekend."

Liverpool's Club World Cup squad:

Alisson, Andy Lonergan, Adrian; Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Andy Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Neco Williams; Georginio Wijnaldum, James Milner, Naby Keita, Curtis Jones, Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Adam Lallana, Xherdan Shaqiri; Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Divock Origi.

Liverpool's Club World Cup semi-final opponents Monterrey will have to up their game when they face Jurgen Klopp's Reds, the Mexican side's head coach Antonio Mohamed has said.

Monterrey beat Xavi's Al Sadd 3-2 in Qatar on Saturday to seal a last-four clash against Champions League holders Liverpool.

Leonel Vangioni scored a stunning goal, Rogelio Funes Mori made it seven goals in his past five matches and Carlos Rodriguez also found the net, yet Mohamed was not pleased with the level of performance.

Abdelkarim Hassan scored Al Sadd's second goal - after Baghdad Bounedjah got their first - to give them hope and Mohamed insisted a similar performance against Liverpool in the semi-final will result in defeat.

"It was a difficult match and we have to flip the page, it's a new chapter now," Mohamed said at a news conference.

"We have to play better and perform better if we want to compete against Liverpool. Liverpool are a team that forces you to play better and top your performance.

"We have no other option. If we play like today we will not be able to defeat Liverpool, so we have to raise the bar."

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has revealed his opposition to suggestions the Champions League should expand in a move that could mean more games for Europe's elite teams.

According to a Daily Mail report, leading Premier League clubs including Liverpool are backing plans that could see the Champions League significantly restructured.

The group stage could grow from a six-match commitment to 10 games per team, the British newspaper said. Such a step could boost earnings potential but also have an impact on existing domestic football schedules.

Klopp's team lead the Premier League, and in the coming week they head to Qatar to compete in the Club World Cup, after earning a place in that event by winning the Champions League.

Injuries are beginning to take a toll at Anfield, with Georginio Wijnaldum joining the casualty list on Saturday when he suffered a muscle problem in the 2-0 win over Watford.

One Liverpool team will face Aston Villa in the EFL Cup on Tuesday, before another plays Monterrey at the Club World Cup a day later.

"The fixtures are like they are. You all like watching us suffering - that's how it is," Klopp said. "You look a little bit concerned, but at the end nobody cares really."

He added: "Today I read an article [saying that] the top clubs want to do more games in the Champions League or whatever. I am not involved in these plans. So that's absolute b******s as well.

"That's how it is. We can talk about everything but we have to cut off games, not be putting more in.

"Until then we have to do what we do and we will do that and we are quite positive about it.

"We need each point we can get because it's a tough and long season. You [the media] can make early judgements... but we can't. We just have to recover and play the next game."

Klopp dismissed the idea his team were off their game against Watford, who had enough chances to win the match rather than leave empty-handed in Nigel Pearson's first game as Hornets manager.

"No, just a difficult game. It was not an off-day," Klopp said. "We scored sensational goals.

"It was just a difficult game and I'm completely fine with that."

Klopp also cast a questioning look at the arrangements in place for FIFA's Club World Cup.

The opening matches have been played at Doha's Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium, but all games from now on will be contested at the city's Khalifa International Stadium, with five fixtures due to be played on the same pitch in five days.

That scenario has come about because FIFA said in early December that the Education City Stadium, which had been due to host Liverpool's semi-final against Monterrey, plus the third-place play-off and final, was not ready in time to stage games at the tournament.

That venue is being built primarily for the 2022 World Cup.

Klopp recognised Liverpool would be going into a warmer climate after their seven-hour flight to the Middle East, but added: "I think it's raining there. Perhaps it doesn't help the pitch - the one pitch we are playing all on ... it's sensationally good organisation - where all the games are on one pitch and it's raining.

"I'm not sure if the people in Qatar are used to a lot of rain. We will see how the pitch will be. That's a bit of a problem."

Bafetimbi Gomis backed Al Hilal to reach the Club World Cup final after he scored a spectacular winning goal in his side's 1-0 quarter-final victory over ES Tunis.

The former Lyon, Marseille and Galatasaray forward came on as a second-half substitute and struck a volley from the edge of the penalty area 17 minutes from time to tee up a semi-final clash with South American champions Flamengo.

Gomis reflected on his recovery from a series of hamstring problems after further justifying Al Hilal's €6million investment with his latest crucial goal.

"It was a good team effort," the striker, who scored in the AFC Champions League final second leg last month, told reporters.

"I am happy I helped my team. All the players worked well; we played a very good game. I am happy I scored that goal.

"I am very happy because I worked a lot to come back to that level. I had surgery and it took me time to come back. So, I am very happy."

Gomis warned his team-mates that they will face stern opposition in Jorge Jesus' side in the last four but indicated that a narrow win had given Al Hilal belief.

"It will be a good game between two big teams," said the 34-year-old. "Flamengo have many qualities and a great coach.

"We don't know this team very well. Before having the opportunity to play against Flamengo, we needed to win against ES Tunis. We did it. Now, we hope we can play a good game and win against Flamengo.

"Everything is possible in football. We also have our qualities."

Leonel Vangioni's superb goal sent Monterrey on their way to a 3-2 Club World Cup quarter-final victory over Al Sadd that sealed a last-four tie against Liverpool.

Monterrey, third in this tournament back in 2012, will face the European champions on Wednesday after a thrilling victory at Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium.

Vangioni scored with a stunning strike from 30 yards midway through the first half, before Rogelio Funes Mori made it seven goals in his past five matches with an effort just before the break.

Baghdad Bounedjah scored for the second straight match, but any hopes of an Al Sadd comeback were effectively ended when Carlos Rodriguez struck with 13 minutes to go.

There was still time for Abdelkarim Hassan to score a second for Al Sadd, who had laboured to an extra-time win over Hienghene Sport of New Caledonia in the first round, as the team representing host country Qatar were eliminated.

Monterrey almost made a dream start when Jesus Gallardo fired a left-footed effort against the crossbar after being found by Funes Mori. 

Al Sadd went straight up the other end and Akram Afif forced a key save from goalkeeper Marcelo Barovero as part of a lively opening.

It was the Mexicans who scored a magnificent opener after 22 minutes, Vangioni receiving a pass from Rodriguez and sending an unstoppable effort off the post and into the top-right corner.

Monterrey struck again in the opening minute of first-half stoppage time, an awful back-pass from Gabi inadvertently sending Funes Mori through on goal and the striker took a touch before coolly beating keeper Saad Al Sheeb.

Afif missed a glorious chance for Al Sadd, but Xavi's men did get one back with 24 minutes left when Bounedjah headed in a Hassan Al Haydos cross.

But Monterrey booked their place in the next round when a superb run and pass from Gallardo set up Rodriguez to fire into the roof of the net, with Hassan's great strike for Al Sadd with a minute left of normal time coming too late in the day.

Substitute Bafetimbi Gomis scored with 17 minutes remaining as Al Hilal defeated ES Tunis 1-0 to book a Club World Cup semi-final against Flamengo.

Gomis was a surprise omission from the starting XI in Saturday's match between the champions of Asia and Africa at Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium.

But he made a rapid impact after coming off the bench late on to send the side from Saudi Arabia through, the victors holding on despite Mohamed Kanno receiving a red card with five minutes left.

Buoyed by a vocal support, ES Tunis should have moved ahead when Anice Badri fired wide after Ibrahim Ouattara forced a mistake from goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayoof.

At the other end, Moez Ben Cherifia rushed out to save from Carlos Eduardo after Salem Al Dawsari slipped the Al Hilal captain through on goal.

Al Hilal then thought they had a penalty when Abdelkader Bedrane brought down Eduardo, who was subsequently flagged for offside after the referee had pointed to the spot.

The AFC champions were on top and only a Mohamed Ali Yacoubi header off the line denied Andre Carrillo after Ben Cherifia's initial save, an error from defender Sameh Derbali leading to the opportunity.

After the break, Kanno fired over for Al Hilal as ES Tunis struggled to create chances, Al-Mayoof racing back to claw away an overhit back-pass in a mix-up the closest the Africans came to scoring. 

Gomis was brought on with 26 minutes remaining and he swiftly made his presence felt, the striker collecting Carrillo's pass, brilliantly flicking the ball over a challenge from defender Ali Yacoubi and firing into the bottom corner.

Omar Khrbin fired wide as Al Hilal looked to put the result beyond doubt, but they held on even after Kanno got a second booking for fouling Badri and will play Brazilians Flamengo on Tuesday with a place in the final up for grabs.

Liverpool's injury problems worsened ahead of the Club World Cup as Georginio Wijnaldum was forced off with an apparent hamstring problem in the second half of Saturday's Premier League clash with Watford.

Already missing Dejan Lovren, Joel Matip and Fabinho amid a hectic run of fixtures, Jurgen Klopp saw Wijnaldum pull up lame early in the second half on Saturday, with the Reds a goal to the good.

Wijnaldum was unable to continue after brief on-field treatment and limped off to be replaced by Andy Robertson, with James Milner switching from left-back to midfield.

Liverpool will head to Qatar after the Watford game for two Club World Cup fixtures, starting with a semi-final contest on Wednesday. It now remains to be seen whether Wijnaldum will be fit for that trip.

The runaway Premier League leaders then face second-placed Leicester City on Boxing Day in a key domestic contest.

Al Hilal captain Mohammad Al Shalhoub is determined to make sure their maiden Club World Cup campaign continues into the semi-finals ahead of a debut clash with ES Tunis.

The champions of Asia and Africa meet at Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium on Saturday for the right to face Copa Libertadores winners Flamengo in the last four next week.

Al Hilal became continental kings for the first time since 2000 this year, beating Urawa Red Diamonds 3-0 on aggregate in the AFC Champions League final to avenge their 2-1 defeat to the same opponents two years ago.

The Saudi Arabian side boast a strong contingent of experienced players, including former Juventus and Toronto FC star Sebastian Giovinco, ex-Lyon striker Bafetimbi Gomis and Peru international Andre Carrillo, and it is hoped this core will help calm any nerves ahead of Al Hilal's first outing on club football's world stage.

Al Shalhoub also aims to put on a showcase of the developing quality of Arabic football when he faces a Tunisian side with which he is very familiar.

"We are very happy to be here. We consider this the natural place for us," he told reporters.

"We hope we will reflect the development of Arabic football and get through the first stage, which is very important for us.

"I always follow the Tunisian clubs and I know they are very strong teams. We know a lot about the clubs and the Tunisian players, who are highly capable. We know the next match will be a beautiful derby that reflects the development of football."

Al Hilal coach Razvan Lucescu hopes their lack of experience will be offset by the positivity of having won the AFC Champions League less than a month ago.

"It's true that experience is very important at this level, but at the same time, enthusiasm and motivation are also very important. After winning the Champions League of Asia, we are full of motivation," he said.

"We know Esperance are a physical team while having quality from midfield and upwards. But we have a lot of quality and motivation. We're waiting for this game."

Esperance reached their third Club World Cup after winning the CAF Champions League for the second year in a row in contentious circumstances, the Tunisians being awarded the trophy after the second leg was forced to be abandoned by Wydad Casablanca's protests over a disallowed goal in May.

Having been beaten convincingly 3-0 by Al Ain last year, Esperance are better prepared for the 2019 finals, according to head coach Moin Chaabani.

"This is the first game for us, and the ultimate goal for us is to achieve success in the next match," he said. "Al Hilal are a well-respected team. They have world-class players and very talented strikers.

"For Esperance, this is the second [consecutive] participation at the Club World Cup. Unfortunately, we did not win the first match and were knocked out. This time, we're more focused and ready to play a good match. The concentration is very high."
 

Players to watch

Al Hilal – Bafetimbi Gomis

Gomis has rejuvenated his career in recent seasons with Marseille, Galatasaray and now Al Hilal. The 34-year-old, a 12-time France international, scored 11 goals in 14 games to finish as the AFC Champions League's top scorer in 2019.

ES Tunis – Anice Badri

With four goals in six matches in the league this season, Badri is likely to be key to Esperance's chances of springing something of a surprise on Saturday.

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