TOYOTA, AICHI PREF. – J. League champions Kashiwa Reysol impressed but came up short against Santos, going down 3-1 in the Club World Cup semifinals on Wednesday night.
A trio of wonderful goals from Neymar, Borges and Danilo sent South American champions Santos into Sunday’s final against Barcelona or Al Sadd in Yokohama. Hiroki Sakai scored in the second half for Reysol.
Kashiwa, who were left to rue their missed chances in front of goal, will head to the third-place match as part of Sunday’s double-header at Nissan Stadium.
Santos went into the first meeting between the champions of the J. League and the Libertadores Cup as overwhelming favorites, but Kashiwa raised a lot of eyebrows by more than holding their own against the Sao Paulo side in the opening half.
Yet two brilliant strikes, first by Neymar and then by Borges, quickly changed the complexion of the game, turning the tide against Nelsinho’s men.
Neymar, the latest Brazilian sensation, should have pushed Santos in front in the fifth minute from a careless backpass by the Kashiwa defense but his effort, taken much too casually, came off the left-hand post.
The striker, however, made up for the miss 14 minutes later with the best goal of the tournament so far.
Receiving the ball just outside the semicircle, Neymar sidestepped a tackle by Kashiwa captain Hidekazu Otani and with surgical precision fired into the top left corner. Kashiwa keeper Takanori Sugeno could only stand on his line and watch.
Borges, the former J2 scoring champion with Vegalta Sendai, doubled the visitors’ lead in the 24th minute with a cracking goal of his own, hitting the back of the net from the edge of the box.
Yet Reysol, despite playing a 120 minutes before beating Monterrey on penalties Sunday, would not go away, clawing their way back into the game after 54 minutes when Sakai scored with a towering header from a Jorge Wagner corner.
The joy proved to be brief for Kashiwa supporters as Santos reestablished a two-goal advantage three minutes past the hour through Danilo, who curled a free kick around the wall and just inside the right post.
Even with less than half an hour to go, Reysol still created the opportunities to move level on 75 and 82 minutes, both for substitute Masakatsu Sawa.
Sawa, though, was almost criminal in missing the chances, first hitting the post and then firing high over the bar from point-blank range.
Earlier at Toyota Stadium, Monterrey rebounded from their defeat to Kashiwa at the weekend to beat Tunisia’s Esperance 3-2 in the fifth-place match.
Goals from Hiram Mier, Aldo de Negris and Jesus Zavala sent Monterrey — the North and Central American, Caribbean champions from Mexico — past the African champions.
FIFA welcomes Euro bids
FIFA invited broadcasters in more than 40 European countries on Wednesday to bid for rights to show the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
FIFA already has signed two-tournament deals in the United States, Middle East and Latin America at considerably higher prices than the respective 2010-2014 World Cup contracts.