Christian Gimenez struck a superb double as Mexico’s Pachuca staged an epic comeback to beat African champion Al Ahly of Egypt 4-2 in extra time and advance to the semifinals of the Club World Cup on Saturday.
Pachuca trailed 2-0 in the first half after a Fausto Pinto own goal and a Flavio strike, but two free-kicks from Luis Montes and Gimenez leveled the tie before Damian Alvarez and Gimenez scored in extra time to set up a meeting in the last four with Copa Libertadores winner Liga de Quito of Ecuador here on Wednesday.
“I didn’t think we deserved to be 2-0 down because we played better than Al Ahly in the first half,” said Pachuca manager Enrique Meza. “We were able to play creatively and score after two minutes in the second half and I think our tactics paid off.”
Pachuca’s victory also helped erased the painful memory of a 1-0 upset defeat to Tunisian underdog Etoile Sahel in its only previous appearance in the tournament in last year’s quarterfinals.
Pachuca dominated the early stages but the Africans took the lead against the run of play on 28 minutes when Pinto turned Mohamed Aboutrika’s ball across the face of goal past Pachuca keeper Miguel Calero.
Aboutrika was involved again for the second on the stroke of halftime, sending through Mohamed Barakat, who squared for Angolan striker Flavio to hammer into the roof of net.
The Mexicans came out blazing after the break though and substitute Montes’ free-kick pulled them back into the game on 47 minutes before a superb set piece from Gimenez made it all square 17 minutes from time.
Pachuca’s perseverance was rewarded eight minutes into the first extra period when Alvarez pounced to smash past Amir Abdelhamid. Gimenez put the game out of reach when he picked up a lay off from Bruno Marioni to wrap up the scoring.
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