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JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia – Julian Alvarez scored the fastest ever goal in a Club World Cup final as Manchester City thrashed Brazilian side Fluminense, 4-0, to cap a remarkable year by capturing their fifth trophy of 2023 on Friday, December 22 (Saturday, December 23, Manila time).
Pep Guardiola’s team, which was missing injured striker Erling Haaland at the global tournament, had already captured the FA Cup, Premier League, Champions League, and UEFA Super Cup this year.
The Spaniard hinted that his time at the club might be coming to an end when he said “the job was done” and “there was nothing else to win” after eight years at the helm.
“I have the feeling we’ve closed a chapter. We’ve already won all the titles,” Guardiola told a news conference. “There’s nothing left to win. I have the feeling the job is done, is over.”
Guardiola, who arrived at City in 2016, claimed his 16th title with the club. He added he wanted to write a new chapter with the team where he has 18 months left on his contract.
“Now it’s Christmas time, buy another book and start to write it again. The last eight years, it’s over,” he said.
“When I close the chapter, it’s for eight years of incredible work behind the scenes. Today we celebrate on the plane, tomorrow rest.”
“The players out there are still hungry and motivated. It’s a beautiful, beautiful day.”
Captain Kyle Walker added: “To win these five trophies – for me, the five biggest prizes available to us – is incredible.”
“I am so proud to have been a part of this and I can honestly say it’s an honor to play alongside these players; I couldn’t ask for better teammates.”
“It’s really, really hard to win consistently, so to be sat here today having won the (five titles) is really special and a huge achievement.”
Alvarez had the travelling City fans cheering 40 seconds after kick off. Keeper Fabio did well to push Nathan Ake’s long shot off the post but Alvarez was quick to the rebound, stooping to his hands and knees to chest it home.
Nino scored an own goal in the 27th minute, deflecting a shot from Phil Foden sideways into the net.
Foden put the game away in the 72nd minute when he slid to poke in a hard cross across the box from Alvarez.
“It was an unbelievable match,” Foden told FIFA.com. “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.”
Alvarez completed his brace in the 88th with a strike from just inside the box, prompting delighted City fans to break into “Blue Moon.”
The victory made Guardiola the first manager to guide three different clubs to Club World Cup titles, winning with Barcelona in 2009 and 2011, then Bayern Munich in 2013.
Guardiola stressed to his players this week about the importance of “closing the circle” on the team’s trophies, and achieving a “once-in-a-lifetime” goal.
City never allowed Fluminense, which play the quintessential Brazilian short-passing possession style, to find its stride.
“Fair play to them, I love the way they play with short passes, they didn’t make it easy for us,” Foden said.
The Brazilians’ best chance would have been a penalty that referee Szymon Marciniak initially awarded after Ederson brought down Paulo Henrique Ganso. But technology showed he was offside.
City keeper Ederson had little to do, but made a terrific save just before halftime when Jhon Arias met a corner with a thunderous header that Ederson dove across the net to push away.
“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,” Fluminense manager Fernando 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.”
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 Kyle Walker claimed the Silver Ball.
The 2025 tournament will feature an expanded 32-team format in the United States.