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Sunday 19 January 2020

Top of the world for 'Pool

Liverpool 1 Flamengo 0

Liverpool’s players lift the trophy following the FIFA Club World Cup Final win over Brazil’s Flamengo at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha. Photo: Karim Jaafar/AFP via Getty Images
Liverpool’s players lift the trophy following the FIFA Club World Cup Final win over Brazil’s Flamengo at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha. Photo: Karim Jaafar/AFP via Getty Images

Defender Joe Gomez hopes success at the Club World Cup on Saturday will help boost Liverpool's quest for a first domestic title in 30 years.

The 1-0 extra-time victory over Flamengo in Doha saw the Reds win the one trophy available to them which they had not previously won.

They return home actually in a stronger position than they left, with Manchester City's victory over Leicester meaning their lead at the top of the Premier League is still 10 points - but now with a match in hand.

And with a third trophy in six months in the bag , Gomez says they are now looking to consolidate their bid for a first league title since 1990.

"Winning this only adds to our positivity," he said. "We come away from here as champions of the world. Why can't we use that as a positive?

"But we know we can't dwell on anything. We're not even halfway through the season yet, so it's a case of heads down and carry on the focus."

For all the criticism the club received for travelling to Qatar with a full-strength squad, leaving behind a youth team to get knocked out of the League Cup quarter-finals, the players were in no doubt it was the right decision.

Many have spoken of the drive which exists to win more trophies, so adding another piece of silverware more than justifies the trip.

"It's special. We knew coming into it that we hadn't won it as a club before and that was something we wanted to achieve," Gomez added.

"Credit to all the players, staff and the supporters. I'm buzzing that we were able to take this opportunity. You don't get here without winning one of the biggest trophies in the world.

"The consequence of that is you come here and play top teams. We played two good teams this week and you can't under-estimate that.

Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino (left) and Alisson celebrate winning the Club World Cup. Photo: Reuters
Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino (left) and Alisson celebrate winning the Club World Cup. Photo: Reuters

"The atmosphere in the dressing room just shows you how positive this competition can be. It's another trophy and that's what we're here for."

The victory was not without controversy as Liverpool thought they had won an added-time penalty for a foul on Sadio Mane only for it to be ruled out by VAR when Qatari referee Abdulrahman Al-Jassim viewed his pitchside monitor.

But Jurgen Klopp's side bounced back and Roberto Firmino scored the crucial goal in the first half of extra-time.

"I think that shows the mentality of the team," said Gomez. "When we weren't awarded a penalty or a free-kick from that incident our heads could have dropped.

"We could have felt sorry for ourselves and momentum could have gone against us. But credit to the boys for staying focused and keeping the standards high." Meanwhile, Liverpool defender Andy Robertson insists any negative attitudes to their Club World Cup win will not have any effect on the sense of achievement the players feel.

Critics derided the decision to fly to Doha with a full-strength squad and leave a youth team to be knocked out of the League Cup quarter-finals.

Views on the Club World Cup, in its various guises, have always been different in England, where the tournament is not regarded with anywhere near the reverence it holds for other countries - especially in South America.

For that reason there has been something of a lukewarm approach to the competition.

However, the Scotland defender said it was "irrelevant" BBC television had cut their coverage, which overran because of the 1-0 extra-time win over Flamengo in Qatar, before the trophy presentation in order to get back on track with its scheduling with Michael McIntyre's Big Show.

It was featured via the station's red button facility, but Robertson, who said he was a fan of the comedian, was not bothered the wider viewing public did not see their trophy lift.

"To be fair I quite like Michael McIntyre. I am sure my family back home tuned in," he said. "For me it is irrelevant. We are a very happy squad."

A BBC spokesperson said the decision not to wait for the trophy presentation on BBC One was because "there was a 20-minute gap planned between the match ending and the ceremony starting", adding the channel had "a packed and popular Saturday night schedule".

The spokesperson added: "Viewers were able to watch the whole of the Liverpool game, including extra-time, on BBC One."

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