Marcio Amoroso scored twice and goalie Rogerio Ceni converted a penalty on Wednesday as South American champion Sao Paulo beat Al Ittihad 3-2 to go through to the final of the Club World Championship.

News photoSao Paulo defender Diego Lugano (left) and Al Ittihad forward Mohammed Kallon compete for the ball in the second half of a semifinal match of the Club World Championship at National Stadium.

Amoroso put the side ahead with a deflected shot on 16 minutes before Mohammed Noor equalized for the Asian champion on 33 minutes.

Amoroso tapped in his second on 47 minutes before Ceni made it 3-1 from the spot after 57 minutes.

Hamad Al Montashari headed home a consolation goal on 68 minutes.

“Players such as Amoroso show how good they are in games such as this,” Sao Paulo coach Paulo Autuori said of his two-goal hero.

Ittihad coach Anghel Iordanescu thought his side was overawed by the occasion.

“We didn’t start too well, maybe in the minds of my players, they were playing Sao Paulo — the big champions of a big football country. It made our players not so confident,” Iordanescu said.

Sao Paulo will play either European champion Liverpool or Central American champion Deportivo Saprissa, who face each other Thursday evening, in the final at Yokohama International Stadium on Dec. 18.

“Both teams are very strong,” Amoroso said of his team’s potential opponents. “I don’t prefer one or the other.”

On a freezing Tokyo night at National Stadium, Sao Paulo’s breakthrough came on 16 minutes. Danilo floated in a deep cross from the left that was met by a clearing header from Adnan Falatah that only got as far as Amoroso, lurking on the edge of the area.

The ex-Verdy Kawasaki striker had time to bring the ball down with his chest before firing in a shot that caught a deflection off the unfortunate Falatah that took the ball beyond the diving Mabrouk Zaid.

The opening goal stunned Ittihad into action and the Saudis deservedly equalized after a period of pressure on 33 minutes through captain Noor.

Sierra Leone striker Mohammed Kallon, who had gone close with a stinging shot moments earlier did well to hold off Diego Lugano while running through on goal and Sao Paulo’s Ceni could only parry his shot into the path of Noor, who just beat the ‘keeper to the loose ball for his second goal of the tournament.

Sao Paulo went ahead two minutes after the restart.

A neat four-man move started by playmaker Danilo ended with defender Cicinho, who is joining Real Madrid in January, crossing from the right for Amoroso to score his second with the simplest of tap ins.

Ceni denied Amoroso a chance of a hat trick but 10 minutes later made it 3-1 from the penalty spot after Amoroso was brought down in the area by Redha Tukar.

The ‘keeper, who regularly scores from free-kicks and penalties, stepped up confidently and smashed in an unstoppable spot-kick.

Ittihad pulled back a consolation goal on 68 minutes when Asian player of the year Al Montashari powered home a header off a flick-on from Mohammed Haidar after a Tcheco corner.

Sao Paulo, which along with Liverpool received a bye into the last four of the competition, is eyeing its third world championship title after winning the Intercontinental Cup, the forerunner to the Toyota Cup, in 1992 and ’93.

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