Roberto Firmino came off the bench and scored a 91st-minute goal to earn Liverpool a 2-1 win over Monterrey and a spot in the Club World Cup final.
Jurgen Klopp opted to name Firmino and Sadio Mane among the substitutes, while Jordan Henderson started at centre-back with Virgil van Dijk – one of the Reds’ two first-team centre-backs in the squad – absent due to illness.
Liverpool looked like they would be able to cope without two of their electric front three when Naby Keita put them ahead in the 11th minute, but Rogelio Funes Mori – the twin brother of former Everton defender Ramiro – hit back three minutes later.
Klopp was forced to send on Mane and Firmino in a bid to avoid extra time and the Brazilian turned home fellow substitute Trent Alexander-Arnold’s low cross six minutes after coming on to book a meeting with Flamengo on Saturday.
Liverpool started brightly and moved in front when Salah’s exquisite throughball was latched onto by Keita, who guided a cool finish beyond Marcelo Barovero.
Monterrey equalised when Allison parried Jesus Gallardo’s volley straight to an unmarked Funes Mori and the striker swept home his 100th goal for the club.
The Liga MX side looked dangerous on the break and Alisson got an important touch to a cross from Dorlan Pabon with Funes Mori lurking, while Barovero did well to stop Keita rounding him before half-time.
Liverpool continued to dominate possession but, with the CONCACAF Champions League winners testing Alisson through a Pabon free-kick and looking more threatening in attack, Klopp sent Mane on for Xherdan Shaqiri.
Monterrey boss Antonio Mohamed and Klopp were shown yellow cards in the 77th minute as the tension rose and Firmino soon entered the fray for Divock Origi.
The Reds had struggled to create chances in the second half but when Alexander-Arnold sent a low cross to the near post, Firmino got in front of Miguel Layun and saw his effort squirm past Barovero to snatch the victory.
Monterrey (4-5-1): Barovero; Medina, Montes (Layun 79), Sanchez, Vangioni; Pabon Rios (Meza 82), Rodriguez, Pizarro (J Gonzalez 90), Ortiz, Gallardo; Funes Mori
Subs not used: Basanta, Cardenas, A Gonzalez, Gutierrez, Mejia, Resendez, Urreta, Vasquez, Zaldivar
Booked: Vangioni, Mohamed, Gallardo
Scorers: Funes 14
Manager: Antonio Mohamed
Liverpool (4-3-3): Alisson; Milner (Alexander-Arnold 74), Henderson, Gomez, Robertson; Keita, Lallana, Shaqiri (Mane 68); Salah, Origi (Firmino 85), Oxlade-Chamberlain
Subs not used: Jones, Lonergan, Adrian, Williams
Booked: Gomez, Klopp
Scorers: Keita 12, Firmino 90+1
Manager: Jurgen Klopp