x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Quito through to Club World Cup final

Ecuadorian side Liga de Quito reach the Club World Cup final after beating Mexican side Pachuca in Tokyo.

Luis Bolanos of Ecuador's LDU Quito celebrates after scoring against Pachuca in the Fifa Club World Cup semi-final.
Luis Bolanos of Ecuador's LDU Quito celebrates after scoring against Pachuca in the Fifa Club World Cup semi-final.

TOKYO // The South American champions Liga de Quito set up a potential match against Manchester United in Sunday's Fifa Club World Cup final in Yokohama with this impressive victory. Quito, who last season became the first Ecuador side to win the Copa Liberatadores, outclassed the spirited Mexican champions Pachuca in Tokyo's rain-lashed National Stadium on Wednesday. Pachuca were aiming to become the first team from outside Europe or South America to reach the final of the revamped competition, but their hopes were dashed after just five minutes.

The Argentine forward Claudio Bieler gave Quito the lead after a defensive mix-up allowed him to shoot into an open goal after his first effort had been blocked. Pachuca dominated possession and while their three Argentinians Damian Alvarez, Christian Gimenez and Bruno Marioni created difficulties, it was Quito who went 2-0 up on 24 minutes, to the delight of their small band of supporters in a 33,366 crowd.

After a disputed handball decision midfielder Luis Bolanos struck a free-kick over the Mexican wall past the unsighted goalkeeper Miguel Calero. Pachuca had previously come from 2-0 down to win 4-2 in their quarter-final tie against African champions Al Ahly and again they only started to look dangerous after conceding two goals against Quito. Alvarez blasted a volley at the Quito goal while Jose Cardenas missed an easy chance at the end of an entertaining first half.

Pachuca made two changes at the break, but their efforts to get back into the game were frustrated by a Quito side content to run down the clock from the first minute of a scrappy second half. The Mexicans again dominated with 66 per cent of the possession, but Quito sat deep, defended well and were seldom threatened. Quito substitute Reinaldo Navia should have made it 3-0 in the 90th minute, but he spooned the shot over the bar with just the captain Calero to beat in the Mexicans' goal. Quito will play the winners of the United v Gamba Osaka game, while Pachuca meet the losers in a play-off for 3rd and 4th places. "We took advantage of our chances," the Quito coach Edgardo Bauza said. "We are now in the final of the Club World Cup, which means we are one of the top teams in the world and this is a great honour." The vital second goal came midway through the first half after Pachuca defender Julio Manzur was booked for a handball on the edge of the box and Bolanos curled a free kick over the wall. "It just happened that the ball came to Manzur's hand but it was an accident. I disagree with the call," the Pachuca coach Enrique Meza said. "But we can't make excuses. Liga played their game and we couldn't score and that was the difference." amitten@thenational.ae