Urawa Red Diamonds clinch fifth place in Fifa Club World Cup
Asian club football champions from Japan edge past Morocco-based African winners 3-2
Mauricio Antonio, the normally-goal-shy defender from Brazil, scored twice as Urawa Red Diamonds sealed fifth place in the Fifa Club World Cup at the expense of Wydad Casablanca.
Neither of these teams had managed a goal in their opening game at this competition. In truth, they had rarely threatened to, either, in the double-header at Zayed Sports City on Saturday.
And yet within 26 minutes of kicking off in Al Ain, they had matched the tally of goals that had been scored in the previous 270 minutes of the Club World Cup.
Antonio started the flurry with a spectacular 35-yard drive that left Bedraddine Benachour, the Wydad goalkeeper, helpless.
His frenzied celebration was a clue to the fact Antonio seldom scores at all, let alone goals of that quality.
Three minutes later, Wydad had levelled, after defender Mohammed Nahiri glanced in a header from a free kick by Ismail Al Haddad.
Shortly after, though, Urawa reasserted their one-goal advantage as Yosuke Kashiwagi stole in unmarked at the far post to score from close range.
Antonio double the advantage, and his own personal tally, on the hour mark, calmly scoring after Wydad failed to clear.
There was late controversy, when the side from Casablanca were awarded an injury-time penalty following a video review.
Redha Hajhouj scored from the spot, but it was too late to affect the outcome.
Defeat was harsh on the supporters of the Moroccan side, who have been comfortably the most voluble at the competition to date.
And, even though the champions of Africa were comfortably outplayed by their Asian equivalents, their supporters were rarely silenced at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain.
That said, one of the biggest cheers of the evening arrived with 15 minutes to play, when Gremio’s supporters spontaneously announced their arrival inside the stadium.
The Brazilian side will begin their campaign in the second match of the evening, kicking off at 9pm against Mexico’s CF Pachuca.
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Updated: December 12, 2017 11:14 PM