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Everton fringe players' chance

Everton
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By ESPN Staff

Liverpool furious with referee after 1-0 defeat

YOKOHAMA, Japan, Dec 19 (Reuters) - European champions Liverpool are furious with Mexican referee Benito Archundia after losing 1-0 to Sao Paulo in the World Club Championship final on Sunday.

Liverpool had three goals ruled out, including a late strike from substitute Florent Sinama-Pongolle although replays showed Xabi Alonso appeared to have been wrongly flagged offside in the build-up.

Coach Rafael Benitez, who expressed his displeasure to FIFA president Sepp Blatter after the match, was also angry that Sao Paulo centre-back Diego Lugano was not sent off for a foul on Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard.

'It was a red card,' said Benitez. 'It was so clear. The important decisions, he got them all wrong.'

Sao Paulo's goal scorer Mineiro likened his goal to 'winning the lottery.' The match statistics agreed.

Liverpool had 21 shots and 17 corners but poor finishing ultimately cost them a first world title.

It was somehow fitting that FIFA's revamped six-team tournament should come to a somewhat fractious conclusion.

None of the matches sold out, despite Sunday's crowd of 68,000, while some of the early matches were hardly worthy of the tournament's grandiose title.

Japanese organisers will also need to tighten security next year after a pitch invader almost tore down one of the goal nets on Sunday.

Blatter's brain-child may now be expanded from six to eight teams in 2006 to include a Japanese team and allow Sao Paulo back in as holders.

However, no amount of tinkering by FIFA can improve the quality of football on show.

If the curtain-raising match between Saudi Arabia's Al Ittihad and Egypt's Al Ahly did little to aid Blatter's cause, Deportivo Saprissa versus Sydney FC bordered on sabotage.

Sao Paulo's players flew home nursing hangovers on Monday, caring little about FIFA's problems after winning a third world title for the Libertadores Cup holders.

'It's like a dream but at the same time we always had faith that we could beat Liverpool,' said Sao Paulo goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni, who won the player of the tournament award.

Liverpool's thoughts turn to their home game against Newcastle on Dec. 26 but defender Sami Hyypia summed up the team's disappointment with brutal frankness.

'If you win, it stays in the history books forever,' he told Reuters. 'After five years, nobody will remember who Sao Paulo beat in the final.'