Yokohama - Substitute Mu Kanazaki snatched a late winner as Japanese champions Kashima Antlers survived a scare to reach the Club World Cup quarter-finals on Thursday, beating part-timers Auckland City 2-1.
The tournament curtain raiser in Yokohama kicked off following a minute's silence in memory of the victims of the recent Colombian plane crash which all but wiped out Brazilian team Chapecoense.
The 100th match in Club World Cup history also featured the first-ever trial of video assistant referees.
But the technology remained unused in a game that did little to set pulses racing -- at least until Korean defender Kim Dae-Wook rose to meet an Emiliano Tade free kick with a bullet header five minutes into the second half.
Another substitute, Shuhei Akasaki, slammed in Kashima's equaliser in the 67th minute and Japan striker Kanazaki nodded in from close range two minutes from time to complete the comeback.
"It was our first appearance in the tournament and we knew it would be difficult but going behind wasn't ideal obviously," said Kashima coach Masatada Ishii.
"They caught us with a set piece but we didn't panic," he added. "I believed we could come back and the two substitutes did a great job."
The Antlers, who captured their eighth J-League title last weekend, will face South Africa's Mamelodi Sundowns this weekend for the right to take on Colombia's Atletico Nacional in the first semi-final on December 14.
Spanish giants Real Madrid, led by Cristiano Ronaldo, are scheduled to arrive in Japan on Monday as they look to win their second world title in three years.