South American champion LDU Quito produced a first-half blitz to beat Mexico’s Pachuca 2-0 Wednesday and book a place in the Club World Cup final.
Claudio Bieler gave the Ecuadorean side a 4th-minute lead when he profited from a lucky ricochet, before Luis Bolanos doubled the advantage just over 20 minutes later with a brilliant free-kick from the edge of the box.
Pachuca dominated second-half possession in foul conditions at National Stadium, but LDU’s lightning-quick breaks had already done the damage to seal Edgardo Bauza’s team a place in a final showdown against Gamba Osaka or European champion Manchester United on Sunday.
Bauza was satisfied at the way his players executed his game plan, taking the club to new heights after becoming the first Ecuadorean winners of the Copa Libertadores earlier this year.
“We were particularly focused on defense, and we were able to play the way we wanted to,” he said.
“We tried to cover all the areas we had to cover. It is not easy to cover every corner of the pitch, but we were able to do that tonight. On the counter the strikers played superbly, so I had nothing to worry about.
“We are already the number one or two team in the world, and that makes me very proud of my players. Every single player had hopes and expectations of coming here for the Club World Cup.
“We wanted to go out onto the pitch with our heads held high, and that is what allowed us to win.”
LDU got off to the perfect start with Bieler’s early goal, but it came with more than a hint of good fortune. Julio Manzur slid in to tackle Bieler driving forward, but the ball cannoned straight back to leave the striker clear on goal to slot past ‘keeper Miguel Calero.
Pachucha manager Enrique Meza lamented the mistake, but refused to search for scapegoats.
“I don’t think it was anything to do with the players’ mental state,” he said. “It was just a mistake.
“We couldn’t help being a little bit tired because we played for 120 minutes in our last game, but we can’t make excuses because LDU were able to play their game and we couldn’t play ours. I thought they were worthy winners.”
Pachuca struggled to come to grips with the pace of wide men Bolanos and Neicer Reasco, but the Mexicans came close to leveling the score when Manzur glanced a diving header at goal in the 19th minute.
Playmaker Alejandro Manso had been causing Pachuca all sorts of problems throughout the first half, however, and when the Argentine craftily won a free-kick for handball on the edge of the box, Bolanos stepped up to send a stunning curving ball round the wall and into the net.
LDU ‘keeper Jose Cevallos had to endure a few nervy moments soon after, first producing an excellent point-blank parry from his own defender before watching Jairo Campos make a last-ditch clearance to deny Pachuca’s Jose Cardenas on the line.
Calero was also forced into action before the interval, stretching to tip a Renan Calle free-kick from distance over the bar, but it was all Pachuca after the interval.
Christian Gimenez hit a fierce drive from the edge of the area before Bruno Marioni went wide with a shot on the turn. Pachuca had come back from two goals down to beat Egypt’s Al Ahly in the quarterfinal, but there would be no revival this time as Leobardo Lopez headed wide in the 82nd minute and LDU held on.