Messi-inspired Barcelona take world title

Santos FC 0-4 FC Barcelona
Lionel Messi scored twice as the European club champions clinched the FIFA Club World Cup for the second time in three seasons with a routine win.

Barcelona celebrate Cesc Fàbregas's goal in the FIFA World Club Cup final
Barcelona celebrate Cesc Fàbregas's goal in the FIFA World Club Cup final ©AFP

FC Barcelona lifted the FIFA Club World Cup for the second time in three seasons after enjoying an emphatic four-goal triumph against Santos FC in Yokohama.

The UEFA Champions League holders arrived at Sunday's showpiece having overwhelmed al-Sadd Sports Club by the same score in the semi-finals and they quickly set about bewitching their Brazilian opponents, taking a 3-0 first-half lead thanks to goals by Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernández and Cesc Fàbregas.

Though Santos enjoyed a brief revival after the restart there was little they could do to prevent Josep Guardiola's charges from clinching their third trophy of the season, as Messi netted a fourth before the end.

It was the Argentinian international's extra-time strike against Club Estudiantes de La Plata in Abu Dhabi that helped the Azulgrana claim their first FIFA Club World Cup trophy in 2009 and Messi opened the scoring at the International Stadium when he hared on to Xavi's through ball before lifting a smart shot over Rafael Cabral in the 17th minute. Provider turned goalscorer seven minutes later when Dani Alves picked out Xavi to double the advantage with a low effort.

Muricy Ramalho's side had been hoping to prevent a fifth consecutive European success in the competition but that feat looked highly improbable after Barça struck a third before half-time, Fàbregas finding the corner of the net after Cabral had palmed Thiago Alcántara's header straight into the former Arsenal FC midfielder's path.

The Santos No1 denied Fàbregas a second shortly after the restart, tipping the Spanish international's poked effort wide of the post, while at the other end Víctor Valdés was called upon to deny both Borges and Neymar. Unrelenting in their pursuit of victory, however, the European club champions sought a fourth goal and duly found it in the 82nd minute when Messi brilliantly took the ball around Cabral to round off the scoring.

"We played a great and complete game with a lot of intensity," said Barça captain Carles Puyol. "The first two goals we scored calmed us down but we never doubted ourselves. I think it was a fair result. We surprised Santos by coming at them straight from the start, which they probably weren't used to as they tend to have more time on the ball in their domestic league. We're very happy."

Santos striker Neymar had no argument with the result and was gallant in defeat, saying: "Barcelona were the far superior team, they have some fantastic players. We are a young team and we have finished second in the world; we have learned a lot."