Real deal as Mex­i­cans set date with Madrid

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Sil­vio Romero struck twice as Mex­i­can side Club Amer­ica beat Asian cham­pi­ons Jeon­buk Mo­tors 2-1 yes­ter­day to set up a dream Club World Cup semi-fi­nal with Real Madrid.

Lo­cal favourites Kashima Antlers sal­vaged some pride for Asia, how­ever, when the Ja­panese ti­tle hold­ers top­pled South Africa’s Mamelodi Sun­downs 2-0 in the day’s sec­ond quar­ter-fi­nal in Osaka.

In the early kick­off, Kim Bo-kyung swept Korean pow­er­house Jeon­buk in front af­ter 23 min­utes be­fore Romero pounced twice to send the CONCACAF rep­re­sen­ta­tives through to the last four. “The play­ers showed char­ac­ter, at­ti­tude and heart,” Amer­ica coach Ri­cardo la Volpe told re­porters. “We made some changes and tweaked the sys­tem a bit in the sec­ond half and got the goals. “We passed a test to­day and we will play Real Madrid with no fear,” he added. “We will have to work twice as hard but every­one ex­pects us to lose so there will be no pres­sure on us.”

Romero equalised with a clin­i­cal header just be­fore the hour mark and the Ar­gen­tine striker volleyed home the winner via a slight de­flec­tion off Jeon­buk for­ward Kim Shin-Wook af­ter 74 min­utes as the K-League side wilted un­der the mount­ing pres­sure. Club Amer­ica, who also beat Jeon­buk in the quar­ter-fi­nals of the FIFA tour­na­ment 10 years ago, will face Euro­pean cham­pi­ons Real Madrid, led by tal­is­man Cris­tiano Ron­aldo, in Yoko­hama on Thurs­day. The hulk­ing Kim Shin-Wook, in­stantly recog­nis­able with his pep­per­mint green mo­hi­can, was a con­stant men­ace but well shack­led by mark­ers in a tense fin­ish as the Mex­i­cans clung on for the win.

Kashima, who came from be­hind to beat part-timers Auck­land City 2-1 in the tour­na­ment’s cur­tain raiser on Thurs­day, were gifted their open­ing goal by Sun­downs goal­keeper De­nis Onyango in the 63rd minute.

Latch­ing on to a knock-down from Shoma Doi, Ya­sushi Endo scuffed his left-foot shot which some­how squeezed un­der Onyango, bob­bling out of his de­spair­ing grasp and over the line al­most in slow mo­tion. Sub­sti­tute Mu Kanazaki killed the game off by smash­ing home from close range with two min­utes left af­ter more sloppy de­fend­ing from the Africans.

Kashima, fresh from clinch­ing their eighth JLeague crown last week­end, will face South Amer­i­can Lib­er­ta­dores Cup hold­ers Atletico Na­cional of Colom­bia in the com­pe­ti­tion’s first semi-fi­nal on Wed­nes­day.

“We strug­gled at the start to deal with their spirit,” said Kashima coach Masa­tada Ishii. “But we set­tled down in the sec­ond half, found a nice bal­ance and scored two good goals. It was im­por­tant to stay calm and we will have to be just as pa­tient against Na­cional.”

Span­ish gi­ants Real are sched­uled to ar­rive in Ja­pan early to­day morn­ing lo­cal time.

— AFP

OSAKA: Club Amer­ica for­ward Sil­vio Romero (2nd L) re­acts af­ter scor­ing a goal dur­ing the Club World Cup foot­ball match be­tween Jeon­buk Hyundai and Club Amer­ica in Osaka yes­ter­day.

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