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Sao Paulo 1-0 Liverpool

Liverpool were unable to translate their overwhelming dominance into goals as they fell to an undeserved defeat to Sao Paulo in the Club World Championship final.

The Reds paid for one defensive lapse which Mineiro capitalised on in the first half - their first goal conceded since October - but they could not find the end product to match their approach play.

? Benitez rues missed chances

Sao Paulo were negative in the extreme and on another night would have paid for their lack of ambition with a heavy defeat.

In front of a near-capacity crowd, Liverpool had three goals ruled out for offside, hit the bar twice and created enough openings to win two games; defeat was a travesty.

Boss Rafael Benitez had surprisingly opted to rotate his squad, dropping in-form pair John Arne Riise and Peter Crouch in favour of Harry Kewell and Fernando Morientes in a line-up where the emphasis was on technical players.

Liverpool should have made another electric start, as they had in the semi-final against Deportivo Saprissa, when Steven Gerrard whipped over a dangerous ball that an unmarked Morientes headed wide just six yards out.

A one-man pitch invasion damaged the Sao Paulo netting straight after but the Reds were quickly back into their stride.

Kewell had been given another vote of confidence after being selected for the third of Liverpool's three cup finals since Benitez took over. And he was at something approaching his old self, keeping Cicinho busy for much of the game.

But the Brazilians' threat was growing in their only dangerous passage of play in the whole game that saw intricate, one-touch play almost free Amoroso before they broke the deadlock.

Amoroso clipped a delightful ball over Liverpool's backline and Mineiro ran through to slot past Jose Reina. It brought to an end the run of 11 games and 26 minutes without the Reds conceding a goal.

The goal seemed to galvanise Liverpool, who were in the unusual position of having to chase a game, and they came back into contention strongly, with their aerial threat apparent.

Luis Garcia flick-headed a Xabi Alonso corner onto the bar and failed to connect with his countryman's clever pass three minutes later.

Great skill from Kewell gave him the yard he needed to beat Cicinho and his cross deserved better than Gerrard's rushed effort, which rolled harmlessly wide when a goal looked certain.

Luis Garcia's header from Gerrard's cross was expertly dealt with by the diving Rogerio and Sami Hyypia tried with both his head and right boot to restore parity.

Benitez's men began the second half as the ended the first and, after Kewell was fouled, Gerrard arced a brilliant 20-yard free-kick towards Rogerio's top left corner only to see the goalkeeper make a fine save.

Rogerio then tipped a driven Kewell cross onto his bar and Diego Lugano was cautioned for cynically curtailing Gerrard's purposeful run on goal.

Liverpool were building up a head of steam and looked dangerous on every attack but the wily Brazilians were proving as stubborn as they were skilful.

Luis Garcia thought he had levelled the match with a looping header only for the habitually late-flagging linesman to rule it offside in the 61st minute.

Morientes flashed a bicycle kick narrowly wide and Luis Garcia's control robbed him of a golden chance when the offside trap was finally sprung.

An Alonso corner was adjudged to have swung out of play before Hyypia finished tidily at the back post.

Stephen Warnock and Mohamed Sissoko made way for Riise and Florent Sinama Pongolle as Benitez looked for a change in fortune.

Liverpool had the ball in the net for a third time when Pongolle tapped in with three minutes to go, then Kewell thought he had won a penalty when he was felled in the area, while Gerrard and Luis Garcia went close with stoppage-time efforts.

? Benitez rues missed chances

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez felt his side had given everything in the Club World Championship final in Yokohama only to lose to Sao Paulo.

The European champions dominated the game but went down 1-0 to a 27th-minute goal from Carlos Mineiro for the Brazilians.

Benitez told the BBC: 'We have done all things for winning, but it is difficult if they don't concede.

'There were a lot of them (chances) and a penalty claim.'

Liverpool had three goals disallowed but Benitez could not fault his side's commitment.

He added: 'It is a very important competition, but we need to do another thing now.'


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