Sanfrecce Hiroshima made the home crowd happy at the International Stadium in Yokohama by knocking out Auckland City in a deserved 1-0 triumph. Sanfrecce have now qualified into the Quarter Finals where they will face Al-Ahly of Egypt on Sunday.
Sanfrecce dominated the game for large periods and the goal from Toshihiro Aoyama after 66 minutes was just reward for their hard work and endeavour. For Auckland it spells the end of yet another Club World Cup and represents the third time in four appearances that they have succumbed at the opening play-off stage.
Auckland goalkeeper Tamati Williams was on top form throughout the first half to keep the score level at half-time. In the seventh minute he did well to stop a powerful effort from distance by Sanfrecce star-man Hisato Sato. When Yojiro Takahagi hit the bar with a corner Koji Morisaki seemed on hand to put the ball into the back of the net but Williams again made a good save to keep the scores level.
An embarrassing moment followed when Auckland centre-back Takuya Wata deflected a cross toward his own goal mouth but luckily Williams was once again on hand to spare his team-mates blushes.
After half-time Hiroshima were at it again; retaining possession at will and really pushing the New Zealanders hard. Takahagi hit the bar once again before City stopper Williams continued his heroics by making a superb double save. First he prevented Sato’s header from hitting the net before diving at the feet of Morisaki to deny him once again.
However just seconds later, in the 66th minute, the goal came. Aoyama was gifted time and space by a tiring City side and he rasped it into the top corner giving Williams absolutely no chance of keeping the ball out of the net.
Sanfrecce continued to dominate possession and came close to doubling their lead but were again denied by the woodwork when Ryota Moriwaki thundered an effort at goal from the edge of the box.
Auckland City continued to huff and puff and in the final moments of injury time they came desperately close to taking the game to extra-time. Englishman Adam Dickinson had the chance to perform the heroics but he could not keep the ball down and as it sailed just over the crossbar it signalled the end of Auckland’s Club World Cup campaign at the first stage once again.
Sanfrecce Hiroshima play Al-Ahly in the quarter-finals on the 9th December with the winners playing Chelsea in the semi-finals.
Here is the goal from Toshihiro Aoyama that proved vital moments after Williams completed an excellent double save…
image: © yoppy