Ecuador’s LDU Quito booked a place in the final of the FIFA Club World Cup with a comfortable 2-0 win over Mexican outfit Pachuca in driving rain at the National Stadium in Tokyo.
A calamitous piece of defending just four minutes in set LDU on their way, as a dreadful mix-up at the back saw an attempted clearance fall to Bandar Judi Qq unmarked Claudio Bieler, and the Argentine had an easy task of steering the ball beyond Miguel Calero in the Pachuca goal.
That goal set the tone for the match, with Pachuca struggling to come to terms with the wet conditions in the first half.
Argentine threats Damian Alvarez and Christian Gimenez looked the likeliest source of a goal for Los Tuzos, but the reigning Copa Libertadores champions from Quito managed to hold Pachuca’s star men at bay.
Instead it was LDU causing most of the attacking threats, and they doubled their advantage in the twenty-sixth minute after Pachuca defender Julio Manzur handled just outside the penalty area.
LDU midfielder Luis Bolanos stepped up to curl an inch-perfect free-kick just over the wall and into the top corner of the goal, with Pachuca keeper Calero unsighted.
For the second time in the tournament Pachuca found themselves two goals down at half-time, but unlike their thrilling come-from-behind 4-2 victory over Egyptian giants Al-Ahly in their opening game, this time there was no way back for the Mexicans.
They pushed forward in numbers in the second half, but time and again danger man Damian Alvarez and compatriot striker Bruno Marioni failed to force LDU keeper Jose Francisco Cevallos into a save.
Despite dominating possession for the entire ninety minutes Pachuca trudged disconsolately off the field with nothing to show for their efforts, with two defensive errors costing coach Enrique Meza and his team dearly.
LDU Quito will now go on to meet the winner of tomorrow’s semi-final between Gamba Osaka and Manchester United, with both matches set to take place at the 70,000-capacity Yokohama International Stadium.
Adelaide United will take on Al-Ahly in the 5/6 playoff in the curtain-raiser to Manchester United’s Club World Cup debut, with Al-Ahly coach Manuel Jose under pressure from Egypt’s demanding media to claim a result from that game.
Heart-break for Adelaide as Gamba go through
Gamba Osaka will take on Manchester United in a showpiece semi-final at the Club World Cup, after the Osakans saw off Adelaide United 1-0 in front of 38,141 fans at Toyota Stadium.
The J. League side did just enough to see off their Australian counterparts, however Adelaide can consider themselves unlucky after Aurelio Vidmar’s men turned in a vastly improved performance from the one that saw United thrashed 5-0 by Gamba in the recent two-legged AFC Champions League final.
How different things might have been had Adelaide captain Travis Dodd not struck a golden opportunity agonisingly wide after fifteen minutes, after the pacy Dodd had done brilliantly to fashion his chance on the counter-attack.
Gamba made Adelaide pay for their profligacy, as the mercurial Yasuhito Endo then started and finished a move in the 23rd minute, with Endo’s volley from early substitute Ryuji Bando’s intelligent knock-down skidding through the legs of Adelaide’s hapless keeper Eugene Galekovic.
There was more heart-break for the ubiquitous Dodd when his header came back off the crossbar just before half-time, as the Reds fought desperately for an equaliser.
Gamba controlled proceedings in the second half, and Brazilian striker Lucas Severino should have put the match beyond doubt when he fired straight at the legs of Galekovic.
Yet the South Australian side refused to surrender, and substitute Robert Younis and captain Dodd both saw efforts go narrowly wide in stoppage time, as Adelaide’s evening came to a frustrating end.
Gamba talisman Yasuhito Endo claimed that he was impressed by Adelaide’s display, stating that the A-League side had displayed their best qualities in the match.
That will come as scant consolation to Adelaide United, however, with the A-League side now having lost three times in a row to their J. League counterparts.