Hiroshima oust Auckland from Club World Cup

2015-12-10 15:47
Goal (AFP)

Yokohama - Japanese champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima beat Auckland City 2-0 on Thursday in the opening game of the Club World Cup to book their place in the quarter finals.

Yusuke Minagawa and Tsukasa Shiotani found the net in each half as Auckland's assortment of semi-professionals -- who remarkably finished third at last year's tournament in Morocco -- were dispatched with relative ease in drizzly Yokohama.

Minagawa pounced from close range in the ninth minute after Auckland goalkeeper Jacob Spoonley had fumbled a shot from Gakuto Notsuda that fizzed up off the wet turf.

Shiotani squeezed home a second from an acute angle on 70 minutes following another Spoonley error as Hiroshima, who clinched their third J-League title last week, advanced to face Congolese side Mazembe in Osaka this weekend.

European champions Barcelona and Argentina's River Plate, the South American Libertadores Cup holders, join the seven-team tournament at the semi-final stage next week.

The final takes place in Yokohama on December 20.

Hiroshima, who beat Auckland 1-0 at the same stage of the competition in 2012, should have added to their tally in a game desperately short on quality.

If Spoonley -- a lawyer by trade -- was guilty of carelessness for Hiroshima's goals, he partially redeemed himself with smart stops from Minagawa and Brazilian striker Douglas to keep the scoreline respectable for the Oceania federation champions.

Mazembe, once known as Englebert, will provide a stiffer challenge for Hiroshima on Sunday following the first quarter-final between Mexico's Club America and Luiz Felipe Scolari's Guangzhou Evergrande, the Asian champions.

Spanish giants Barcelona, who have won the Champions League, La Liga, the Copa del Rey and European Super Cup this year, are red-hot favourites to capture the world title for a third time under the current FIFA format, launched in 2000.

Barca boast a mesmerising front line of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez, although Brazilian Neymar could be a slight doubt after pulling up with a muscle strain in Wednesday's Champions League clash with Bayer Leverkusen.

Read more on:    club world cup  |  soccer

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