Manchester City strolled into their first-ever FIFA Club World Cup (CWC) final, after recording a 3-0 victory over Urawa Red Diamonds in Jeddah, ending an eight-match run without a clean sheet in all competitions.
City boss Pep Guardiola still decided to play without Erling Haaland in his starting XI for City’s CWC debut, and its effect was obvious in the early stages of the game as City found it difficult to get a clear chance despite dominating both possession and territory.
Matheus Nunes was first to pose a real threat to the Urawa goal, as his close-range volley was tipped over the bar by Shusaku Nishikawa, who then turned Phil Foden’s long-range effort round the post.
However, just as it looked as though the Urawa Reds would make it to the interval unscathed, they shot themselves in the foot in first-half stoppage time. After finding space on the right, Nunes’ dangerous low delivery across the face of goal was turned into his own net by Marius Høibråten after such a spirited defensive display.
With the deadlock broken, the Blues were powered after the restart, and within six minutes, Kyle Walker’s exquisite through ball sent Mateo Kovačić in on goal, and the Croatian international kept his composure to rifle home his first goal for the club as we doubled our advantage.
There’d be no respite for Maciej Skorża’s men however, as Bernardo Silva soon added after a fortuitous deflection. Pep Guardiola then made quite a number of substitutions after confirming a job well done to seal our place in the final against Fluminense on Friday.
A fifth trophy of 2023 is up for grabs, while legendary manager Pep Guardiola could lift the CWC for the fourth time – and with a third different side – should City emerge victorious against the Copa Libertadores champions.