Lucas Alario’s header midway through the second half sent River Plate to the Club World Cup final as the South American champions edged Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1-0 on Wednesday.

In Sunday’s final in Yokohama, River will face either Barcelona or Guangzhou Evergrande, who square off in the other semifinal on Thursday.

As Hajime Moriyasu expected, the Copa Libertadores winners poured it on from the start and had Sanfrecce buried in their own half.

The Argentines bullied the J. League champions on the ball but Hiroshima, to its credit, persevered to keep River off target, and off the scoreboard, throughout the opening half.

After half an hour, Sanfrecce got used to the pace and began creating a few chances through Yusuke Minagawa, who forced River captain and goalkeeper Marcelo Barovero into making two reflex saves to deny Moriyasu’s men the opener.

The 0-0 halftime scoreline gave Hiroshima a measure of hope for the second half, while River grew increasingly frustrated with their inability to find the net.

But in the 72nd minute, River won a free kick down the right wing that Carlos Sanchez launched for the far post. Jonatan Maidana just beat Sanfrecce keeper Takuto Hayashi to the ball, which fell back to Alario, who nodded in the lone goal of the game.

Moriyasu tried to reinforce his attack by bringing on Hisato Sato, Mihael Mikic and speedster Takuma Asano, but River closed out the win, sealing their place in the final.

Earlier Wednesday, Club America beat TP Mazembe 2-1 for fifth place.

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