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December 20, 2015

YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) — 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.

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.

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Watch: Luis Suarez's hat trick leads Barcelona to FIFA Club World Cup final

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.

Earlier Sunday, Douglas came off the bench to score twice and inspire Japan's Sanfrecce Hiroshima to a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Chinese rival Guangzhou in the third-place game at the Club World Cup.

The Brazilian striker scored 21 times this season for the Japanese champions but only came on midway through the second half for Hisato Sato, who squandered a hat trick of first-half chances.

Douglas took only three minutes to get on the score sheet, nodding home a simple 70th-minute equalizer.

When teammate Takuma Asano headed against the bar in the 83rd, Douglas was quickest to react, rising high to head home the looped rebound.

Guangzhou opened the scoring with the fastest goal of the tournament — a third-minute header by former Tottenham midfielder Paulinho.

Guangzhou fans inside the Nissan Stadium lit up their mobile phones after 25 minutes to show solidarity with Zou Zheng. The Chinese club's defender wears the No. 25 shirt, and remains hospitalized after being stretchered off with a broken leg in the 3-0 semifinal defeat to Barcelona on Thursday.

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