Barcelona end 2015 with five trophies as goals from Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez delivered a 3-0 victory over River Plate in the Club World Cup on Sunday.
Messi missed Thursday’s 3-0 victory over Guangzhou Evergrande in the semi-finals through abdominal pain, while Neymar was ruled out with a groin injury, but the pair were free to complement hat-trick hero Luis Suarez in an ‘MSN’ attack.
River, meanwhile, started with Matias Kranevitter, who played his final game for Los Millonarios before his move to Atletico Madrid, but former Barca favourite Javier Saviola remained a subsitute from the 1-0 win against Sanfreece Hiroshima.
Their Coach Marcelo Gallardo spoke of “heart” being the key to a shock triumph at the International Stadium Yokohama, and they showed just that as they immediately stifled the Champions League winners, pressing high up the pitch and closing down any space once a Barca player received the ball.
Nonetheless, the Copa Libertadores holders failed to keep La Blaugrana at bay for too much longer, although they initially had goalkeeper Marcelo Barovero to thank after he somehow denied Messi from point-blank range and tipped a free kick from his countryman wide.
However, the custodian could do nothing about Barca’s opener as Dani Alves’ hanging cross was knocked down by Neymar in the box for Messi, who then allowed the ball to roll across him, before volleying a finish home for his third goal in as many Club World Cup finals.
The restart saw Barca take control of the game, scoring their second just nine minutes in as Sergio Busquets visionary through ball released Suarez, who made no mistake about his finish, which he squeezed through Baroveros legs.
The victory was then sealed with little over 20 minutes remaining as Neymar proceeded to win his duel with Gabriel Mercado, bending a pinpoint cross onto the head of Suarez, who effortlessly guided his header home.
Chances then went begging for the Catalans, who had Messi drag a shot wide from around 12 yards out and another cleared off the line by Jonathan Maidana, before Suarez forced Barovero into a save from his close-range drive.
Barca held on to secure a historic third triumph in the Club World Cup, complenting La Liga, the Copa del Rey, Champions League and European Super Cup in a trophy-laden past 12 months.
River Plate 0-3 Barcelona
Messi 36, Suarez 49, 68
River Plate: Barovero; Mercado, Maidana, Alvarez, Vangioni; Kranevitter; Sanchez, Ponzio (Gonzalez 46), Viudez (Driussi 56); Mora (Martinez 46), Alario
Barcelona: Bravo; Alves, Pique, Mascherano (Vermaelen 81), Alba; Busquets, Rakitic (Sergi 67), Iniesta; Messi, Suarez, Neymar
Referee: Faghani [IR]