Roberto Firmino scored a dramatic injury-time winner – five minutes after coming on as a substitute – to give Liverpool victory over Mexican side Monterrey and book their place in the Club World Cup final.
The Brazilian striker, who replaced Divock Origi in the 85th minute, poked in fellow substitute Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross from close range in Doha.
Liverpool’s Naby Keita had opened the scoring in the first half after an excellent Mohamed Salah through ball before Rogelio Funes Mori equalised.
The Reds will take on Brazil’s Flamengo in Saturday’s final.
Manager Jurgen Klopp, who flew to Qatar with the first-team squad while under-23s boss Neil Critchley took charge of the Liverpool’s Carabao Cup quarter-final defeat to Aston Villa on Tuesday evening, named a makeshift starting XI due to injuries and illness in defence.
As a result, Liverpool looked vulnerable at the back and, despite taking the lead early on, could have fallen behind after chances fell to Monterrey’s Dorlan Pabon, Funes Mori and Jesus Gallardo either side of the break.
Keita also had more chances to score and was denied twice in the second half by keeper Marcelo Barovero.
Funes Mori – the twin brother of former Everton defender Ramiro – shocked Liverpool fans when he pounced on a rebound to equalise three minutes later but the Premier League leaders were persistent, as they have been so often this season.
Salah kept the ball in play before teeing up Alexander-Arnold, who slid a cross behind the defence for Firmino to poke home, meaning Liverpool avoided extra time and a potential upset in Doha.
Such is the extent of Liverpool’s injury list that Jordan Henderson trained in the centre-back position in Qatar and switched from his normal midfield role to play the full 90 minutes there against Monterrey.
Fellow midfielder James Milner also started at right-back as Klopp opted to leave Alexander-Arnold on the bench, while defensive talisman Virgil van Dijk – who has started every Champions League and Premier League game for Liverpool this season – was ruled out through illness.
Centre-backs Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren are also out through injury, as well as defensive midfielder Fabinho, who is not expected to return until the new year.
So it was no surprise Liverpool’s back four were tested – Pabon got the better of Henderson on several occasions and Milner was caught napping at the back post when Rodolfo Pizarro almost got a touch on the ball in the second half.
Monterrey had 16 shots in total, including eight on target, and there was a moment of relief when Joe Gomez – Liverpool’s only recognised centre-back in the squad – was only shown a yellow card for stopping a dangerous counter-attack.
In the end, Klopp was forced to bring on regular first-teamers Sadio Mane, Firmino and Alexander-Arnold and but was rewarded as his side eventually got the job done.
With Liverpool playing nine games in December, it was crucial Liverpool avoided extra time and they now have the chance to win their second trophy this season in Saturday’s final.