J. League champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima have reached the Club World Cup quarter-finals after a 1-0 victory over Auckland City.
Sanfrecce started the game, brightly crafting out numerous chances, with Auckland City goalkeeper Tamati Williams making several saves in the first half.
Williams was first called into action in the seventh minute, when Hisato Sato hit a powerful shot from distance.
The goalkeeper then had to be alert in the 18th minute to palm away Koji Morisaki’s effort after Yojiro Takahagi struck the woodwork with his corner.
Auckland City centre-back Takuya Wata then nearly scored an own-goal in the 28th minute when he tried to cut out a cross, and his clearance was almost diverted in before Williams reacted quickly to keep the ball out.
After the break, Sanfrecce Hiroshima continued to threaten, with Takahagi hitting the woodwork yet again.
The Auckland City custodian was also in an uncompromising mood, as Williams made a diving save to deny Sato’s header, and recovered to keep out Morisaki’s point-blank attempt.
However, in the 66th minute, there was nothing Williams could do about Toshihiro Aoyama’s shot, as the midfielder was allowed time and space to thunder an effort into the top corner to give Sanfrecce a deserving lead.
Auckland City tried to come back into the game but they failed to maintain possession, while Sanfrecce were always looking more likely to score.
The New Zealand representatives finally managed to carve out a decent opportunity when substitute Emiliano Tade was put through down the left, but his shot from a tight angle was tame and easily gathered by Takuya Masuda.
The Japanese side almost doubled their lead in the 85th minute, and were in disbelief after hitting the woodwork for the third time through Ryota Moriwaki’s scorcher from the edge of the box.
Auckland City so nearly found their equaliser in injury time but Adam Dickinson hit his shot just over the bar to leave see the New Zealanders crash out at the same stage for the second consecutive year.
Sanfrecce Hiroshima will now face Al Ahly in the quarter-finals.
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