2016 finalists Kashima Antlers progressed to the semi-finals of the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2018 with a 3-2 victory over Chivas, setting up a meeting with current tournament holders Real Madrid – a repeat of the final two years ago.
Angel Zaldivar’s header put the CONCACAF champions into an early lead at the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, before Kashima’s Ryota Nagaki netted the equaliser shortly after the break.
Brazilian frontman Serginho then found the net for the AFC Champions League winners from the penalty spot, while substitute Hiroki Abe sealed the deal on 84 minutes. Chivas’ Alan Pulido saw an injury-time penalty saved and the spilled-ball was turned into the net by Hugo Leonardo.
Chivas got off to a flying start when they took the lead on three minutes. A threatening cross from winger Isaac Brizuela on the right flank met the head of Zaldivar inside the area, who found goalkeeper Suntae Kwoun’s bottom corner – much to the delight of the Mexican fans.
Kashima restored parity when Shoma Doi raced into the box before delivering a low ball to midfielder Nagaki, who grabbed the leveller with a side-footed finish.
The 2016 finalists took the lead on 69 minutes when Serginho confidently stepped up to the penalty spot and tucked the ball into the bottom corner. Abe then netted Kashima’s third with a delightful strike that found the top corner from just inside the area. There was late drama when Pulido’s injury-time penalty was saved and then later turned into the net by Hugo Leonardo, but Kashima held out for the victory.
Go Oiwa’s side will now prepare for European heavyweights Real Madrid on 19 December at Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Sports City Stadium.