Fluminense’s traditional chaos ball was far from its best in the Club World Cup semifinals, but as they continued to be torn apart on the counter by the bright Egyptian challengers Al Ahly, they stood tall to weather the storm and advance to the final by a 2-0 scoreline.
African continental champions Al Ahly were up for the fight against the favored Copa Libertadores title winners, but repeatedly fell short of expectations in front of goal. 43-year-old Fluminense goalkeeper Fabio logged a pair of key saves for his contribution, but Al Ahly were themselves poor when finishing their numerous chances.
For much of the match it felt as if Al Ahly’s lead was coming any moment, but as they wasted chances, Fluminense grew in confidence and eventually turned the tide. Finally, they had their moment when Marcelo won a penalty in the 70th minute, and Jhon Arias dispatched the spot-kick for the lead. John Kennedy came off the bench to put the match away in the 89th minute, as Al Ahly were duly punished for their failures in the final third.
Hussein El Shahat, Mahmoud Kahraba, and Percy Tau all had chances to score as Al Ahly piled up a whopping 20 shots to Fluminense’s 14, but they managed to put just six of those efforts on frame, many of which were directed straight at the goalkeeper.
Fluminense will need defensive improvement if they are to win the Club World Cup title, but they have their place in the final secured. They will face either European title winners Manchester City or Asian champions Urawa Red Diamonds in the final, with the former expected to be their daunting opponent.
The Sporting News followed the Fluminense vs. Al Ahly match live, providing score updates, commentary and highlights as they happened.
Fluminense vs Al Ahly final score
J. Kennedy (89′)
Kickoff: 9 p.m. local (1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT)
Location: King Abdullah Sports City (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia)
Referee: Szymon Marciniak (POL)
Fluminense (4-2-3-1): 1. Fabio (GK) — 2. Xavier, 33. Nino, 30. F. Melo (Marlon, 75′), 12. Marcelo (D. Barbosa, 80′) — 8. Martinelli, 7. Andre — 21. Arias, 10. Ganso (J. Kennedy, 80′), 11. Keno (Lima, 80′) — 14. Cano.
Al Ahly (4-3-3, right to left): 1. El Shenawy (GK) — 30. Hany, 6. Ibrahim, 24. Abdelmonem, 21. Maaloul — 22. Ashour, 13. Ateya, 8. Tawfik (T. Mohamed, 75′) — 10. Tau (Fouad, 75′), 7. Kahraba (Kafsha, 75′), 14. El Shahat.
Fluminense vs Al Ahly highlights
Fluminense made life difficult for themselves, but on the backs of goal scorers Jhon Arias and John Kennedy, plus goalkeeper Fabio, the Brazilian club advanced to the 2023 Club World Cup final against either Manchester City or Urawa Red Diamonds.
The 2-0 victory over Al Ahly came as Fluminense gave up a host of chances to their Egyptian opponents, mostly coming on the counter-attack. Still, the Copa Libertadores winners prevailed thanks to poor Al Ahly finishing, last-ditch defending, and a pair of late goals to swing momentum their way.
Fluminense vs Al Ahly live updates, commentary
FULLTIME: Fluminense 2-0 Al Ahly
A whopping eight minutes of stoppage pass uneventfully, and Fluminense are through to the final! It was far too nervy for much of the match, and the Brazilian club will need to be much better against counter-attacks if they are to lift the trophy, with a final against European champions Manchester City likely to come, but for now, they’ll be proud of their ability to cover for their numerous mistakes and take care of business in the end.
Fluminense vs Al Ahly: Second Half
89th min: GOAL! FLUMINENSE! John Kennedy puts the match away for Fluminense, as Al Ahly’s comeback bid will be for naught! Martinelli skips by a challenge atop the penalty area, and he taps it laterally to his right where Kennedy awaits, depositing a low, cut effort past Mohamed El Shenawy!
87th min: Chance, Fluminense! Mohamed El Shenawy makes a MASSIVE save on German Cano! Fluminense are clean through on goal as Al Ahly are caught too high, but as Cano streaks towards the goal, El Shenawy closes down the approaching forward and smothers the chance! Cano took too long to pull the trigger, allowing Al Ahly to stay within striking distance as time ticks down!
78th min: Chance, Al Ahly! The Egyptian side bungles another opportunity to equalize! This time it’s substitute Taher Mohamed who pings a shot into the waiting arms of Fabio despite cutting goal-side of Marlon to redirect the cross in. It’s been such a wasteful performance in front of net by Al Ahly today!
Three more changes for Fluminense see John Kennedy, Vinicius Lima, and Diogo Barbosa all enter the match to replace Keno, Ganso, and the illustrious Marcelo.
74th min: Fluminense are incredibly lucky as Nino puts two hands into the back of Mohamed Kahraba in the penalty area, and the Al Ahly man obliges by dumping to the turf, by the referee waves away the protest! It’s probably not enough contact to warrant a penalty, but we’ve seen them given for less! The Fluminense defender definitely extended two hands out from his chest in the contact.
After play is eventually blown dead, Al Ahly make a triple change as Kahraba, Percy Tau, and Akram Tawfik are all withdrawn, replaced by Taher Mohamed, Mohamed Kafsha, and Karim Fouad. Fluminense respond by bringing Marlon in for Felipe Melo who had an exceptional performance.
72nd min: Chance, Al Ahly! The Egyptians nearly equalize straight off the kickoff, as Hussein El Shahat’s glorious deep ball finds the head of Percy Tau unmarked in front of net, but his header is right at Fabio! He should have scored!
71st min: GOAL! FLUMINENSE! The CONMEBOL champions are in front, as Arias finally has the opener from the spot after striking the post twice in the first half! It’s an awfully awkward run-up from Arias, but he blasts the ball into the net to give Mohamed El Shenawy no chance to make the save, despite his correct guess!
Calm as you like. 🥶 pic.twitter.com/ptmaCAoB6H
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) December 18, 2023
67th min: PENALTY! FLUMINENSE! Marcelo uses his vast wealth of experience to win a penalty for the Brazilian side, under a challenge by Percy Tau! The former Real Madrid star collects the ball on the left edge and nutmegs Tau, and the Al Ahly man came in through the back of Marcelo’s legs to take him down. A stonewall penalty!
Marcelo is beaten up enough to where he needs medical attention, and Mohamed Abdelmonem is booked in the meantime as he slams a water bottle to the ground right next to official Szymon Marciniak.
63rd min: Chance, Al Ahly! FABIO SAVES FLUMINENSE AGAIN! Percy Tau feeds a wonderful ball forward to Hussein El Shahat, who cuts inside on his right for a low, driven effort on goal. Yet the ageless wonder in net for Fluminense gets down to his right to parry the effort! He’s having a huge game as Al Ahly continue to carve Fluminense up on the break!
60th min: Felipe Melo makes another absolutely vital defensive intervention! A ball in from the Al Ahly left nearly reaches the head of Mahmoud Kahraba, who’s free on goal, but Melo gets a slight touch to the ball with his own head first to send it out for a corner. It had to be, or else Al Ahly would have been in front!
55th min: Al Ahly break dangerously yet again, and Hussein El Shahat finds Mahmoud Kahraba on the left in space for a shot. The striker’s attempt on goal is weak and doesn’t trouble Fabio, who easily gets straight down to smother the tame effort.
53rd min: Chance, Fluminense! Finally the Brazilian side creates an opportunity from their overwhelming possession with the so-far invisible German Cano on the end of it. The Argentine fizzes a shot across the face of goal that skids just wide of the far post! From a tight angle, the prolific Cano had beaten Mohamed El Shenawy but also beaten the woodwork, that’s close!
52nd min: Jhon Arias, after striking the post twice in the first half, is showing signs of frustration, lashing at a shot from around 25 yards out but sending it whistling well wide. That’s a waste.
49th min: Fluminense have possessed most of the early second-half possession, and Jhon Arias wins a free-kick in the attacking half after a foul by Emam Ashour. The Brazilian side simply cannot find a way through. Eventually it’s given away as Marcelo is whistled for a foul, looking to evade a sliding challenge by Monhamed Hany with a leap but landing straight on top of the Al Ahly midfielder’s leg with his studs. Ow.
Kickoff: The second half is under way as these two sides try to find a breakthrough after a scintillating first 45 minutes finished without a difference between the two on the scoresheet.
HALFTIME: Fluminense 0-0 Al Ahly
The majority of the first half deserved a goal the way the two teams approached the match, but somehow we’re still scoreless at the break. Al Ahly were by far the most dangerous side, out-shooting Fluminense by a 13-3 margin through the opening 45 minutes, but were denied by Fabio and his back line’s last-ditch defending.
Fluminense, meanwhile, will be buoyed by the fact that Jhon Arias has struck the post twice, and will consider themselves extremely unlucky not to have snatched a lead themselves. What an entertaining 45 minutes, and it feels like goals are on the horizon after the break!
All square after 45 minutes. 🤝
Which team will we see in the #ClubWC Final?
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) December 18, 2023
Fluminense vs Al Ahly: First Half
45th min: The first yellow card of the match is shown to Fluminense midfielder Martinelli who pummels Emam Ashour right in the face with a wayward elbow. Doesn’t appear to be any intent in the incident, but he does make very square contact, and players need to be aware of their surroundings.
Two minutes of added time are shown.
36th min: Chance, Al Ahly! WHAT A SAVE BY FABIO! The 43-year-old Fluminense goalkeeper, who is the second-oldest player ever to compete in the Club World Cup, has denied a header by Mahmoud Kahraba as Al Ahly nearly prove deadly on the counter once again. The shot by Hussein El Shahat is blocked, but the ball looped right to Kahraba who pounced, but his point-blank header was right at Fabio who reacts extremely well. Kahraba should have done better!
— Fluminense F.C. (@FluminenseFC) December 18, 2023
28th min: Al Ahly counter with venom again, and a shot from Hussein El Shahat is blocked away by Andre, out for a corner to the Egyptian club. The corner is cleared with ease by Fluminense, but the presence of Al Ahly’s transitional danger is something for the Brazilians to consider as the game progresses.
23rd min: Chance, Fluminense! Fluminense winger Jhon Arias goes to ground under a heavy challenge by Yasser Ibrahim, but Szymon Marciniak waves away the protests for a penalty. It appears to be a clean tackle as Ibrahim got the ball and put it out over the end line.
On the set-piece, Arias clatters the crossbar a second time!! He meets the delivery from around 12 yards out, and strikes it first time, smacking the near post cleanly! He’s struck the woodwork twice and we’re not even at the half-hour mark!
19th min: Chance, Al Ahly! THE EGYPTIAN SIDE IS DENIED ON THE GOAL MOUTH! The corner conceded by Felipe Melo is swung in very dangerously, and while the flick from the near post across the face of goal evades 43-year-old goalkeeper Fabio, Fluminense defender Xavier meets it at the far post to clear the chance before Mahmoud Kahraba can tap it into the net!
What a match this has been so far, with both teams showing real attacking intent! Still no goals yet, but you feel it’s coming.
18th min: WHAT a challenge by Felipe Melo to prevent a huge Al Ahly opportunity on goal! A glorious ball from midfield sprung Percy Tau free on goal cutting in from the right, but Melo came thundering back with a recovery challenge that dispossesses the Al Ahly winger from having a shot. The Fluminense fans behind the goal love it!
16th min: Fluminense striker German Cano has to be careful, as he’s already whistled for his third foul of the match by official Szymon Marciniak for a clear drag-back of Mohamed Hany, and surely will be on thin ice moving forward. In truth, he’s lucky not to be booked for that foul alone, stopping an Al Ahly attacking move in midfield.
9th min: Chance, Fluminense! The South American club’s first opportunity on net is a glorious chance, but Jhon Arias thunders a volleyed effort into the corner of the woodwork! The Al Ahly defense gets sucked in underneath a cross to the far post, leaving Arias completely unmarked as the ball floats into his lap, but the Colombian international rifles the ball straight into the top-right corner of the post! He should score there, the goal was gaping!
6th min: Chance, Al Ahly! Behind vociferous support in Saudi Arabia, the Egyptian club has been the brighter side early on, with four shots to Fluminense’s none. Percy Tau tries an audacious effort on net from a very long way out, and it takes a huge deflection that nearly sees the ball tuck into the top-left corner! What a wild opener that would have been had it gone in, but it nestles on the top of the net instead, out for a corner.
3rd min: Both teams are showing attacking intent early in this match, and Al Ahly have a free-kick as Felipe Melo, nicknamed “the pit bull,” throws his hip into Al Ahly midfielder Hussein El Shahat. The Egyptian side works the ball forward dangerously off the set-piece but they can’t find space through the forest of Fluminense defenders crowding the penalty area.
Kickoff: They’re under way in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia! The winner of this match will hope to draw a date with Manchester City, as it would increase their club’s profile exponentially regardless of the outcome.
Today’s match official is Szymon Marciniak of Poland, who officiated the 2022 FIFA World Cup final between France and Argentina.
The loser of today’s game will, however, still get a third-place match to enjoy, something which will go away in the coming FIFA Intercontinental Cup which will replace the annual Club World Cup moving forward.
— Kieran Canning (@KieranCanning) December 18, 2023
Fluminense vs Al Ahly: Pre-match commentary, analysis, stats, and more
15 mins to kickoff: This year’s Club World Cup is the final of its current iteration, as the competition will move to its expanded and rearranged format starting in 2025. In its place, the FIFA Intercontinental Cup will be incepted, starting its yearly competition in 2024.
30 mins to kickoff: Fluminense left-back Marcelo has been a revelation for the club this season, contributing at a high level despite crossing past his 35th birthday in the middle of the Brazilian season. Marcelo started his professional career at Fluminense at just nine years old, before leaving as a teenager to join Real Madrid.
Back at his boyhood club, Marcelo has needed rest at various points throughout the season, but he has played in all the biggest matches, and lifted the South American continental crown to bring his career full circle. After winning this Club World Cup competition a whopping six times with Real Madrid, he brings important experience to Fluminense’s presence in this year’s edition.
45 mins to kickoff: 22-year-old Fluminense midfielder Andre is reportedly a target for a host of European clubs, mostly linked to Premier League side Liverpool. However, recent reports say that Fluminense haven’t received any formal offers yet, and at present, they are only considering a transfer in the coming summer, while their standing in next year’s Copa Libertadores could further affect his availability.
1 hour to kickoff: With 60 minutes to go before the start of the match, Fluminense have released their starting XI. The South American side is also deployed exactly as expected, with fans hoping to see Andre, linked with European clubs, put on a show in midfield.
1 hour 15 mins to kick: With Al Ahly’s relative proximity to host nation Saudi Arabia, it’s expected that the majority of fans will be supporting the Egyptian club, but a vocal contingent of Brazilian supporters have made their presence known as darkness descends upon the Middle East!
É DIA DE FLUMINENSE E NADA ME INTERESSA 🇭🇺🇭🇺🇭🇺🇭🇺 pic.twitter.com/h82dl4aAIi
— Fluminense F.C. (@FluminenseFC) December 18, 2023
1 hour 30 mins to kick: Al Ahly’s lineup is already submitted, and it’s as expected, with the first-choice front three ready to trouble the shaky Fluminense back line. There is one change from last time out, as Akram Tawfik comes into midfield to replace Ahmed Kouka.
We’ve backed Al Ahly in-form striker Mahmoud Kahraba to find the net himself after assisting two in the 3-1 victory over Al Ittihad last time out. Check out all the match predictions and tips by clicking here.
1 hour 45 mins to kick: Man City midfielder Bernardo Silva has already said he would like to play against Fluminense in the final if both teams reach that stage. Silva, a Portuguese international, says “there is a special connection between Brazil and Portugal in football” and he would enjoy the chance to play against a Brazilian club.
2 hours to kickoff: Fluminense head coach Fernando Diniz is a dedicated man, claiming he’s scouted seven different Al Ahly matches in addition to their latest win over Club Leon last round. He must be incredibly busy, as he also serves as Brazil interim head coach alongside his club responsibilities.
Fluminense vs Al Ahly lineups, team news
Real Madrid legend Marcelo is finishing his career with Fluminense and will be disappointed not to match up against his old Blancos teammate Karim Benzema.
Young midfield talent Andre, 22, is reportedly a target for top Premier League clubs like Liverpool, while striker German Cano is in exceptional form, scoring in each of the final five matches of the Copa Libertadores title run, including the final.
Fluminense starting lineup (4-2-3-1): Fabio (GK) — Xavier, Nino, Melo, Marcelo — Martinelli, Andre — Arias, Genso, Keno — Cano.
Fluminense subs (12): Rangel (GK), Eudes (GK), Marlon, Alexsander, Kennedy, Daniel, Guga, Thiago Santos, Y. Gonzalez, Barbosa, Braz, Lima.
Al Ahly will be without backup striker Anthony Modeste, as the 35-year-old France international is suspended after being sent off late in the win over Al Ittihad after coming off the bench.
Those who watched the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations will recognise Al Ahly goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy who is the No.1 for the Egypt national team. The 34-year-old suffered an injury in the midst of the tournament, which hindered Egypt’s title bid as they fell in the final to Senegal.
Centre-back Mohamed Abdelmonem is another Egypt national-team regular, while 26-year-old midfielder Aliou Dieng has built himself into a consistent starter for Mali over the past two years.
Al Ahly starting lineup (4-3-3): El Shenawy (GK) — Hany, Ibrahim, Abdelmonem, Maaloul — Ashour, Attia, Tawfik — Tau, Kahraba, El Shahat.
Al Ahly subs (12): (Al Ahly substitutes not yet released)
How to watch Fluminense vs Al Ahly in 2023 Club World Cup
Here’s how to watch the entirety of the FIFA Club World Cup 2023 across a selection of the world’s major regions:
|FIFA+, FIFA YouTube
FIFA+, FIFA YouTube
|FIFA+, FIFA YouTube
|FIFA+, FIFA YouTube
Global: Across many of the world’s regions, FIFA+ will provide live streaming of every game at the 2023 Club World Cup, with access also available on FIFA’s YouTube channel.
UK: In the United Kingdom, TNT Sports will provide coverage of selected games with streaming options available via discovery+.
India: The Eurosport TV channel with carry coverage for audiences in India.