Barcelona beat River Plate 3-0 to take Club World Cup title

YOKOHAMA: Lionel Messi fired Barcelona to its third Club World Cup title on Sunday with a disputed opening goal as the European champion beat South American champion River Plate 3-0 in the final.


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Messi scored from close range in the 36th minute before Luis Suarez grabbed two more goals.

Replays strongly suggested the ball hit Messi's right arm before he shot home.

Suarez added to his semifinal hat trick against China's Guangzhou Evergrande, scoring just four minutes after the break. He ran down the right flank onto a fine through ball from Sergio Busquets that exposed the Argentine team's defense.

Brazil striker Neymar, who overcame a recent groin injury, supplied the cross which Suarez headed home in the 68th, making it five goals in two matches for the Uruguay forward.

Barcelona is the first club to lift the trophy in its modern format three times, following its triumphs in 2009 and 2011.

It was the second time Messi had found himself at the center of controversy this week. He missed Thursday's 3-0 semifinal win over Guangzhou Evergrande of China due to apparent renal colic, amid suspicions he had been simply rested for the final.