Goals from Julian Alvraez and Phil Foden either side of an own goal from Fluminense’s Nino put City three goals ahead, before Alvarez’s late strike secured a historic victory as City took apart the Copa Libertadores winners in an entertaining final at the King Abdullah Sport City.
The win sets the seal on a remarkable 2023 for City, a year which has seen Pep Guardiola’s rampant side become the first in the history of English football to hold the Premier League, FA Cup, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup simultaneously.
City were ahead after 39 seconds when Nathan Ake cut out a poor clearance from Fluminense left-back Marcelo, advanced forward and hit a curling shot from distance that rebounded off the post into the path Julian Alvarez, who chested home from six yards.
It was a clever finish from a striker who possesses exceptional instincts inside the area, with this his ninth goal of the season to date. Since he joined City in the summer of 2022, no player has scored in as many different competitions as the World Cup winner.
In what was an absorbing first half, City survived a major scare after 17 minutes when Fluminense’s Germán Cano was played through on goal and brought down in the area by Ederson, but the Argentine striker was adjudged to have been offside in the build-up. The VAR check that followed confirmed the decision was correct but marginal.
An own goal from Fluminense captain Nino doubled City’s lead soon after. Rodrigo’s superb slide-rule pass played in Foden, whose attempted cross from the left of the area was turned into his own net by the unfortunate Brazilian defender.
City were increasingly taking control of proceedings and Jack Grealish brought a fine save from Fabio low down to the ‘keeper’s left after the City forward skipped past Ganso and unleashed a low drive from the edge of the box.
City should have added a third shortly after the restart when Foden’s first-time effort from the edge of the area was pushed away by Fabio as far as Bernardo Silva, whose header from inside the six yard box was gathered by the Fluminense ‘keeper. The Portugal star, who scored a fine goal in the semi-final win over Urawa Red Diamonds on Wednesday, maybe should have done better on this occasion.
The game was becoming increasingly tetchy, with Fluminense dishing out some industrial challenges. Substitute Alexsander went through the back of Rodrigo, who looked in significant discomfort thereafter. The 20-year-old Fluminense midfielder was rightly shown a yellow card by referee Szymon Marciniak for the foul.
City made it 3-0 after 71 minutes when Alvarez’s cross was turned home by Foden. Rodrigo, still struggling from the challenge by Alexsander, had to leave the field of play seconds after the third goal, replaced by Manuel Akanji.
Ederson tipped one over the bar from John Kennedy after his decent run and powerful long-range effort, before Alvarez scored his second and City’s fourth with a brilliant low strike to ensure the Club World Cup is coming back to Manchester.
Subs: Ortega Moreno, Carson, Phillips, Gomez, Alleyne, Susoho, Hamilton
Fluminense: Fabio, Xavier, Felipe Melo (Mendanha 60’), Nino, Marcelo (Alexsander 60’), Andre, Martinelli, Ganso (Lima 60’), Keno (John Kennedy 46’), Jhon Arias, Cano
Subs: Rangel, Eudes, Marlon, Daniel, Gomes, dos Santos, Gonzalez, David
Guardiola: A totemic manager
Manchester City and Pep Guardiola are now inextricably linked.
Sixteen trophies and counting for the Catalan since he took charge at City in 2016 – five Premier League titles, one Champions League, two FA Cups, four League Cups, one Super Cup, one Club World Cup and two Community Shields - a quite brilliant record that has seen him rewrite the history books time and again.
The side has been constructed in his image and his influence can be felt across the entire club. He has raised standards in every department, embedded a wonderful style of football and made winning trophies seem standard practice.
Manchester City are embodied by Guardiola: style, flair, a winning mentality and a desire to always strive for more.
Man of the match: Julian Alvarez
Two goals and one assist for the Argentine on a night he will never forget.
At just 23 years of age, he has already won a World Cup and Copa America with Argentina, a Copa Libertadores and Argentine league title with Boca Juniors, as well as the Premier League, FA Cup, Champions League, Super Cup and Club World Cup with City.
A remarkable young striker who will surely only get even better.
What it means
City are the first English side in history to hold the Premier League, FA Cup, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup at the same time.
It’s a unique and remarkable achievement, one that underlines the quality and consistency shown by Guardiola’s squad over the course of 2023.
City will now fly back to Manchester and begin preparations for Wednesday’s Premier League fixture away at Everton.
In our final domestic game before departing for Jeddah, City lost a two-goal lead to draw at home to Crystal Palace – our third Premier League home draw in succession. As it stands today, City are fourth in the table with work to do.
Despite a 10-point deduction, Everton currently sit 16th in the table and are in excellent form having won four Premier League games on the spin in December thus far.
There are few tougher tests to return to.
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