Goals in each half from Yusuke Minagawa and Tsukasa Shiotani earned Sanfrecce Hiroshima a deserved 2-0 win over Auckland City to book their spot in the Club World Cup quarter-finals.
The J.League champions, making their second appearance in the tournament, had too much quality for the New Zealanders in Thursday’s play-off contest in Yokohama.
Sanfrecce’s opener was somewhat contentious as Minagawa was seemingly offside when following up Gakuto Notsuda’s saved shot.
Shiotani added the second in the 70th minute as his deflected attempt squirmed into the left-hand corner from a tight angle.
Hajime Moriyasu’s side can now look forward to a last-eight tie with TP Mazembe.
Sanfrecce were rewarded for a bright start when Minagawa tapped home after Jacob Spoonley made a hash of Notsuda’s curving effort as Auckland’s claims for offside fell on deaf ears.
Auckland, who enjoyed a fine third-placed finish in last season’s competition, sought a swift response and Joao Moreira stole the ball deep in the opposition half and forced Takuto Hayashi into a save from the edge of the box.
But Sanfrecce remained a threat and Spoonley did well to foil Minagawa when one-on-one, while Shiotani wasted a free header from Yoshifumi Kashiwa’s inviting right-wing cross.
The game was put beyond doubt 20 minutes from time, though. Shiotani received the ball on the right of the box and his shot ricocheted off Marko Djordjevic and crept under Spoonley.
Sanfrecce almost had a third when Douglas leapt high to meet a cross from the right, but Spoonley made a fine low stop to keep out the Brazilian’s header.