Pachuca manager Alonso delighted with 'spirit of players' in Fifa Club World Cup defeat to Gremio

Mexican side lost out to the South American champions due to an extra-time winner from Everton.

epa06385821 Keisuke Honda (C) of Pachuca in action during the FIFA Club World Cup semi final match between Gremio Porto Alegre and CF Pachuca in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates, 12 December 2017. Gremio won 1-0 after extra time.  EPA/MARTIN DOKOUPIL

Pachuca manager Diego Alonso could only praise his side’s efforts in their Fifa Club World Cup semi-final defeat to Gremio on Tuesday.

The Mexican team, who needed extra time to get past Wydad Casablanca at the weekend, were pushed to the additional period again at Al Ain's Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, but Everton’s 95th-minute strike was enough to earn their Brazilian rivals a 1-0 victory.

Making their fourth appearance in the tournament, Pachuca were attempting to become the first team from their country to reach the showpiece. They now go into Saturday’s play-off for third spot, which takes place before the final in Abu Dhabi.

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Speaking after the Gremio defeat, Alonso said: “I want to highlight the spirit of my players. The ambition they have is huge and I’m really proud of them. As I have said before, they are competition animals and I am very happy to manage them.

“For us, it was a great opportunity to make history. We got very close because we competed well, but unfortunately we couldn’t fulfil our dream of reaching the final.”

Pachuca’s plight was not helped by Victor Guzman’s sending off, although the midfielder collected his second booking 10 minutes into extra time. Even with 11 men on the pitch, though, Alonso said fatigue was beginning to take its toll. Gremio did not enter the tournament until the semi-final stage.

“We were tired because three days ago we had also played 120 minutes and were now playing against a side who had rested,” he said. “This gave our opponents the advantage and we had to use different strategies.

“We moved a lot to dominate and were able to withstand 90 minutes, but then it went to 120. We knew the longer the game went on, the more difficult it would be for us. As time went on, they became more aggressive and, because of the pressure we put them under, we tired.

“It took more effort to keep the ball and you can see what happened in the end. Although we kept playing, competing and trying to get into the match, Gremio became better, especially with one more player than us. When they scored, it was very difficult for us to recover.”

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