Manchester United eased through to the FIFA Club World Cup final with an entertaining 5-3 win over J. League side Gamba Osaka in front of 67,618 fans at Yokohama International Stadium.
The English giants looked to be cruising when Bandar Judi Qq first half headers from Nemanja Vidic and Cristiano Ronaldo gave them a commanding two goal lead at the break.
Gamba pulled a goal back through striker Masato Yamazaki in the 74th minute, and that proved to be the precursor for a crazy spell of action.
United substitute Wayne Rooney scored with what was practically his first touch of the ball, before fellow substitute Darren Fletcher then put the game beyond doubt with a 78th minute header.
Just a minute later Rooney scored his second and United’s fifth, as a shell-shocked Gamba defence capitulated on the global stage.
To Gamba’s credit they scored twice more over the closing stages, with the inspirational Yasuhito Endo slotting home from the spot after Gary Neville was adjudged to have handled inside the area.
Midfielder Hideo Hashimoto then popped up to score a rare goal and add some respectability to the scoreline – and United’s Dutch goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar was nonplussed to have been beaten three times in this wildly fluctuating clash.
Several of the United players complained of jet-lag after the match, with French international Patrice Evra revealing that he had only slept for a total of two hours in the build-up to the match.
Cristiano Ronaldo was another to suffer from fatigue, although he was quick to praise the Osakans, whom he labelled a “very good football team.”
The newly-crowned World Player Of The Year was tight-lipped about the prospects of a potential move to Real Madrid, instead preferring to focus on the task at hand.
To a man the United squad have all highlighted their desire to become the first British club to lift the FIFA Club World Cup in its current form, with Sir Alex Ferguson’s team clearly meaning business when they take on Ecuador’s LDU Quito in the Club World Cup final on December 21 in Yokohama.
That goal is now within reach, with just one more game standing in United’s way of being crowned world champions.
Adelaide United end Club World Cup on high
Adelaide United have ended the FIFA Club World Cup on a high after recording a gritty 1-0 win over Egyptian giants Al-Ahly in the playoff for 5/6 at Yokohama International Stadium.
The Australian outfit dominated the opening twenty-five minutes and deservedly opened the scoring through Brazilian striker Cristiano, who set off on a virtuoso run seven minutes in before unleashing an unstoppable strike that flashed passed Amir Abdelhamid and into the top corner.
Adelaide almost doubled their lead through a Sasa Ognenovski header three minutes later, before Cristiano missed a gilt-edged opportunity to double his personal tally on the quarter-hour mark.
Al-Ahly gradually began to assert themselves as the first half wore on but they had little to show for their efforts, and coach Manuel Jose sprung a major surprise as he benched playmaker Mohamed Aboutrika at half-time.
Despite the change Al-Ahly remained lacklustre in the second half, and Mohamed Barakat wasted their best chance when he forced a flying save from Eugene Galekovic with eight minutes remaining.
Adelaide coach Aurelio Vidmar was full of praise for his team, and he hoped Adelaide’s win would help raise the profile of the fledgling A-League.
“By finishing fifth and with our experience in the Asian Champions League, it has really lifted the profile of the game in Australia and it hopefully gives a lot of confidence to the other A-League clubs that they can do well in the Asian Champions League to get to this point,” said Vidmar.
“It has been a tremendous ride which hasn’t been easy but we’ve learnt a lot from playing these games and it certainly puts the cub and the game on the map back home. When you win games at this level it lifts people’s eyebrows and awareness of what the football can and will be like in the future.”
In contrast Al-Ahly coach Manuel Jose was scathing of Egypt’s domestic media, claiming that reporters had failed to heed his warnings that the Cairo-based club were not the global force that some in the Egyptian media believed they were.
Al-Ahly have now fallen twice to Australian clubs, after they lost the 5/6 playoff to Sydney FC in Tokyo at the 2005 FIFA Club World Cup.