Kashima Antlers vow to 'show our own game' in Fifa Club World Cup rematch with Real Madrid
Saturday's victory over Guadalajara gives Japanese side chance to avenge 2016 final defeat when they face the Spanish side again on Wednesday in Abu Dhabi in a semi-final showdown
Runners-up to Real Madrid two years ago, Kashima Antlers have not had to wait too long for their chance of revenge.
On Saturday, at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain, the Asian champions bounced back against Concacaf counterparts Guadalajara to stride into the Fifa Club World Cup semi-finals.
A goal down to the Mexicans at half-time, Kashima kept calm to eventually triumph 3-2. Madrid wait in the last four on Wednesday in Abu Dhabi at the Zayed Sports City Stadium.
In 2016, when playing as hosts, the Japanese club pushed the acclaimed Spanish giants to extra-time in the final, but Cristiano Ronaldo completed his hat-trick and Madrid collected the trophy.
Now, 24 months on, the two teams meet again.
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“Last time in Japan, in the 2016 final, we made a great impact on a lot of people,” said Kashima manager Go Oiwa, who watched that match as assistant to Masatada Ishii. “But against Madrid we really wanted to win, that’s how we thought.
“Yes we lost, it was disappointing, but we now have a stage to show our disappointment. We won this opportunity ourselves and that’s very pleasing. This match is going to get a lot of attention.
"We will try to show what we couldn’t do today, play aggressively and show our own game from the beginning against Real Madrid. That’s how we feel as we try to take the challenge to Real Madrid.”
On Saturday, they were certainly challenged by Guadalajara. The first side to qualify for the tournament, the Mexicans made a fast start to their Club World Cup debut.
Three minutes had just about elapsed when Isaac Brizuela broke brilliantly down the right and delivered a pinpoint cross for Angel Zaldivar. Unmarked, the hulking striker headed back across Kashima goalkeeper Sun Tae Kwon and into the net.
From there, Jose Cardoza's men were much the better side, with Kwon forced into a fine save from Zaldivar’s close-range effort just after the half hour. Seconds before the whistle signalled the interval, Orbelin Pineda struck the crossbar.
Yet, to their credit, Kashima responded. Within four minutes of the restart, they were level. Serginho led a breakaway and played in Shoma Doi, who threaded an inviting square ball for Ryota Nagaki to slide home.
Twenty minutes later, Kashima had completed the turnaround. Again, Doi was involved. Receiving the ball on the edge of the Guadalajara area, the midfielder wrestled free from three opponents only to be tripped by Michael Perez’s outstretched leg.
Serginho kept his cool from the spot, rolling the ball into the bottom left-hand corner while Guadalajara goalkeeper Raul Gudino opted for the other side. Six minutes from time, substitute Hiroki Abe curled a fine finish high past Gudino to put Kashima 3-1 to the good and seemingly seal the result.
However, there was still enough left for Guadalajara to halve the deficit. In injury-time, the Video Assistant Referee confirmed Shuto Yamamoto had indeed kicked Jair Pereira in the Kashima area. Alan Pulido’s spot-kick was saved, but the rebound was bundled in via a rival's touch. Much to Guadalajara’s dismay, though, it proved too little, too late.
Kashima had rallied and rolled into the semi-finals. There lies Madrid, in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. Two years on, and with five players starting against Guadalarjara who began the 2016 showpiece, they have their chance for revenge.
“That gave us security and peace of mind to be able to draw from experience, especially for our younger players," Oiwa said. "I’ll continue using this experience for that reason, and choose a starting 11 based on this and our analysis of Madrid.
“Madrid is Madrid, Madrid is strong. But against such strength we will be solid and aggressive in our fighting. Yes, we do hope to proceed to the final.”
Updated: December 15, 2018 08:43 PM