Victorious over Monterrey, Kashiwa headed for Club World Cup semis


Substitute Ryohei Hayashi converted the winning penalty as J-League champions Kashiwa Reysol edged Monterrey of Mexico 4-3 in a shootout after a 1-1 draw in 120 minutes, reaching the Club World Cup semifinals on Sunday.

Kashiwa will play South American champions Santos in the semis on Wednesday.

“I’m so glad we won,” Hayashi said. “It may not have been the greatest way to win a game, but I’m glad I made the most of the opportunity when it came to me.

“I’m real confident about taking penalties.”

Added coach Nelsinho, “We had to go into penalties, but I think we deserved to win one way or another.

“Santos are favorites to win the competition alongside Barcelona. We’re fully aware of the talent Santos have, but we still have yet to play at our best game which we hope to do against them.”

J-League MVP Leandro Domingues had opened the scoring early in the second half before Humberto Suazo leveled shortly afterward to send the game into extra time.

In the first match at Toyota Stadium, Asian Champions League winners Al Sadd booked a date with European champions Barcelona in the other semifinal on Thursday in Yokohama after beating Tunisia’s Esperance 2-1.

Kashiwa were fortunate not to be down at the half as Monterrey poured it on right from the start.

Compared to Reysol’s previous opponents — Auckland City, who Nelsinho’s men easily dismissed 2-0 in Thursday’s opening match — the visitors from Mexico were a notch above them in every facet and Kashiwa struggled to adjust.

Monterrey went perilously close in just the third minute, when Chilean international Suazo led the break before laying off for Sergio Santana who was denied by the superb hands of Takanori Sugeno.

Suazo created more trouble for Kashiwa on the quarter-hour, again penetrating the box but only to hit the post of an empty net as Sugeno left his line.

Reysol didn’t have their first full-blown opportunity until the 35th minute when Jorge Wagner decided to give it a go, firing wide right from 25 meters out.

Kashiwa looked sharper in the second half and in the 53rd minute, Junya Tanaka, who scored the first goal of the tournament against Auckland, set up Leandro Domingues for a dynamite opener.

Tanaka floated into the penalty area from the right, and drew the defense as he cut back for Leandro Domingues. The Brazilian showed why he was named the J-League’s best player this season by turning on the ball for a volley that swooped into the net, pushing Reysol out in front.

The lead, however, did not last long as Monterrey equalized five minutes later through Suazo, who finished on the counter to invite extra time and the shootout.

In the afternoon kickoff, goals from Khalfan Al Khalfan and Abdulla Koni sent Al Sadd into the last four where they will go for broke against Barcelona.

Esperance easily had the better moments, but the African champions paid the price for their inaccuracy as they were staring at a halftime deficit.

Esperance outshot Al Sadd 13 to 2 but it was the Qatari giants who went ahead in the 33rd minute through Al Khalfan, who nodded in the deflection of a stinging shot by former Barcelona striker Kader Keita.

Al Sadd padded out their lead on 49 minutes when captain Koni swept home from a Nadir Belhadj free kick headed down by South Korean centerhalf Lee Jung Soo.

Esperance finally saw their efforts bear fruit on the hour as skipper Ousama Darragi made it a 2-1 game from a Khelil Chammam free kick.

But they would fail to further close the gap, missing a couple of free shots down the stretch and Khaled Ayari’s goal in the 90th minute being disallowed for offside.