Manchester City are through to the final of the 2023 FIFA Club World Cup after a 3-0 victory over Urawa Red Diamonds in Jeddah.

In a highly entertaining semi-final game at the King Abdullah Sports City, an own goal from Marius Hoibraten and fine strikes from Mateo Kovacic and Bernardo Silva secured City’s safe passage through to the final in our first ever appearance at the tournament.

The victory sets up a global showpiece final against Brazilian side Fluminense on Friday, with City on the brink of creating more history after last season’s Treble success and subsequent UEFA Super Cup victory.

Should City win on Friday, we would become the first English team in history to hold the Premier League, FA Cup, UEFA Champions League, Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup simultaneously.

What happened

A clear pattern emerged almost immediately. Urawa Red Diamonds, whose recent success has been built on their solid defensive backline, sat back and denied City time and space, with sporadic counter-attacks their main hope of scoring.

City were going to have to be patient, with the Japanese side disciplined, hard-working and well-drilled.

The first sight of goal came after eight minutes when Rodri tried one from distance, but his powerful effort went wide of the upright. The Spaniard later flashed a half-volley wide and had a first-time effort from inside the box blocked superbly as he looked to singlehandedly seize control of the game.

Matheus Nunes forced a fine save from Reds ‘keeper Shusaku Nishikawa when he bundled the ball past Ken Iwao and struck a fierce volley from close range.

Nishikawa was then forced into another save soon after, this time from Phil Foden’s curling effort, before denying Nunes again, with the Portugal midfielder’s effort too close to the ‘keeper to cause any significant alarm.

The game was largely being played in the Urawa Reds’ half, and it felt a matter of time before City broke the deadlock – and on the stroke of half-time, a deserved opening goal finally came.

Nunes, who had been lively throughout the first half, rolled Iwao superbly midway inside the Reds half and played a fine one-two with Bernardo Silva down the right before crossing across the face of goal - and in an attempt to ensure the ball didn’t make it through to a City player, defender Marius Hoibraten put through his own net.

It was a moment of misfortune for the Norwegian, but it was no less than City deserved.

City’s lead was doubled early in the second half when Mateo Kovacic scored his first City goal. Kyle Walker produced a quite brilliant outside-of-the-boot through-ball that split the Reds defence wide open, and Kovacic dispatched the ball expertly. It was an emphatic finish and impressive all-round goal. 

It should have been 3-0 moments later but Nunes somehow headed wide from Jack Grealish‘s perfectly played cross, but just before the hour mark Pep Guardiola‘s side did get the third.  

Nunes skipped past substitute Takuya Ogiwara but his effort was palmed away by Nishikawa, but only as far as Bernardo who finished with aplomb. 

City were now in total control and expressing themselves in attack, with Urawa Red Diamonds suddenly looking exposed and out of ideas. 

Guardiola made a triple substitution to freshen his pack, with Julian Alvarez, Oscar Bobb and Josko Gvardiol coming on to replace Foden, Bernardo and Manuel Akanji

And Bobb was soon in on the action, delivering yet another lively cameo. He hit an effort wide moments after coming on, produced a couple of beautiful shoulder drops to go past players and then found a fine pass into Alvarez, whose close-range effort was well saved. 

Given the travel demands placed on City this week since arriving here, this was an excellent performance, full of energy and creativity going forward.

A date in the final now awaits Guardiola‘s men, with significant history now well within grasp. 

Man of the match

Mateo Kovacic

This was a fine all-round display from the Croatian, who bagged his first City goal with an emphatic finish from Walker’s through-ball and was constantly on hand to receive the ball and keep City ticking over in midfield. 

Confident, assured and with a knack of keeping possession, he was exceptional and a big reason City will be playing in Friday’s final. 

A break from the norm 

This game felt like a welcome distraction for City, who played with vim and vigour for much of the game. 

Saturday’s draw at home to Crystal Palace, which saw Michael Olise equalise for the visitors in the 95th minute, made it three home draws in succession for City in the Premier League, leaving us fourth in the table as we set off for participation in the Club World Cup. 

And although the 3000-mile trip will undoubtedly have taken it out of the players, this week-long stay in Saudi Arabia offers a chance for a change of scenery, some warm-weather training and a new competition to focus on.

Judging by our display in this semi-final against Urawa Red Diamonds, the trip has offered a chance to reset and refocus. 

Pep reaction

“It’s the first time Manchester City is here. I represent this incredible organisation and club and now we will play the final against Fluminense. This is the last step - a title the club doesn’t have. So we’ll go for it.

“Kevin [De Bruyne] started training yesterday and will train with us tomorrow but it’s been three months so he cannot play in the final, he is getting better, Erling [Haaland] still cannot train. 

“The plan [for the final] is to sleep, sleep and sleep! This is our plan. The pitch conditions was not really good, honestly.

“But we know how that business works. Now we have to rest. They [Fluminense] have one more day.

“We will have a day off, have dinner together and create an environment that the players know how important it is for the club.”

What it means

City are through to the FIFA Club World Cup final, where they will play Fluminense in three days’ time. The Brazilian side, here in Jeddah because of their Copa Libertadores success back in November, defeated Al-Ahly 2-0 in Monday’s first semi-final.

That game kicks off at 18:00 (UK)/21:00 (Saudi Arabia). Download the official Man City app for commentary, live text updates and our Matchday Live studio show.  

The previous 10 winners of the Club World Cup have been European sides and City will now be desperately hoping to make it 11 in a row and take the trophy back to the Etihad Stadium for the first time, which would see them become the first English club in history to hold the Premier League, FA Cup, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup at the same time.


Urawa Red Diamonds

XI: Nishikawa, Sekine, Scholz, Hoibraten, Akimoto, Ito (Ogiwara 57’), Iwao (Shibato 78’), Okubo (Schalk 57’), Yasui, Kosumi (Nakajima 64’), Martinez (Linssen 64’)

Subs: Niekawa, Yoshida, Sakai, Iwanami, Ohata, Panya, Koroki

Manchester City

XI: Ederson, Walker (C), Stones (Gomez 76’), Akanji (Gvardiol 64’), Ake, Rodrigo (Phillips 76’), Kovacic, Nunes, Bernardo (Bobb 64’), Grealish, Foden (Alvarez 64’)

Subs: Ortega Moreno, Carson, Dias, Alleyne, Susoho, Lewis, Hamilton

Every match at the 2023 FIFA Club World Cup is available to watch in the UK on TNT Sports and FIFA+. For fans outside of the UK, click here to find out how you can watch the matches in Saudi Arabia.

The official Man City app will also have free live radio commentary as part of our usual Matchday Live show that includes studio guests previewing and analysing the action.

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