Manchester City beat Fluminense for 1st Club World Cup title


How much does Man City's Club World Cup triumph matter?

Jan Age Fjortoft recaps Manchester City's Club World Cup win and thinks it'll provide the boost they need for the rest of the season.

Manchester City were just too good and a bit lucky for overmatched Fluminense in the Club World Cup final by winning 4-0 and taking a fifth title in 2023 on Friday.

City led after just 40 seconds to make it a match mostly free of tension. Julián Álvarez followed up fastest to meet a rebound off a post from Nathan Aké's shot.

- Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)

An own goal in the 27th by Fluminense captain Nino decided the game long before Phil Foden's goal in the 72nd, guiding an Álvarez pass into an open net. Álvarez struck again in the 88th.

It gave City a first Club World Cup title and Europe a 16th in 17 editions of FIFA's competition for continental champions. Man City had already won the FA Cup, Premier League, Champions League and UEFA Super Cup this year.

"It was an unbelievable match," City's Phil Foden told FIFA. "The lads showed not only quality, showed heart and determination. I'm delighted with the outcome.

"This is so important for the club," he added. "I'm delighted. It is massive for the club."

Manchester City captain Kyle Walker lifted the Club World Cup trophy after victory over Fluminense.
Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

City cruised to a second easy win in four balmy days in Saudi Arabia even without injured superstars Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne. They also missed City's semifinal win over Urawa Red Diamonds on Tuesday.

Their expected absences could help explain the empty seats among a crowd of 52,601 at King Abdullah Sports City, the Jeddah stadium which is planned to be used at the 2034 World Cup.

Victory made Pep Guardiola the first coach to win the Club World Cup with three different teams. He led Barcelona to titles in 2009 and 2011, then Bayern Munich in 2013 with a team that won the Champions League under outgoing coach Jupp Heynckes.

Guardiola celebrated calmly by walking across to console Fluminense coach Fernando Diniz with a handshake and arm on his shoulder.

"We faced a City which have been the best team in the world for the last five years and they know how to make the most of the opportunities they create," Diniz told Brazilian TV Globo.

"They are always spot on, scored really early and they punished us for the mistakes we made. We have to be proud for our incredible year and to have paved the road that led us here. It was an amazing ride and there is nothing to be ashamed of."

Fluminense started with six players born in the 1980s, and bristled with perceived disrespect when told on Thursday of British media drawing attention to the age of their veteran team. City's oldest player in the starting lineup, 33-year-old captain Kyle Walker, was born in May 1990.

Fluminense's most celebrated player, Marcelo, exited after an hour to warm applause and a handshake on the touchline with City substitute Mateo Kovačić, his former teammate at Real Madrid.

One of Marcelo's first touches in the game was an unwise long pass from defense that let Aké advance in space to shoot.

Álvarez was alone in the goalmouth to stoop and score with his chest. The Argentina forward's goal was the fastest ever in a Club World Cup final.

The bounce of the ball was unkind again to Fluminense when Nino slid in to block Foden's pass across the goalmouth, and the ball looped beyond goalkeeper Fabio's reach. The attack came from a piercing change of pace in Rodri's pass to Foden.

The one cloud on City's evening was an apparent knee injury to Rodri, who crumpled to the pitch when Alexsander caught him by the ankle. Rodri immediately grabbed the back of his knee. After receiving treatment, he briefly returned to the game before going down again and left the pitch in agony.

Rodri was presented with the Golden Ball as the best player of the tournament, and was able to walk across the presentation stage to receive his trophy. City captain Walker claimed the silver ball.

The 2025 tournament will feature an expanded 32-team format in the United States.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.