SUITA, OSAKA PREF. - Kashima Antlers made Club World Cup history by becoming the first Asian team to reach the final after a 3-0 victory over Atletico Nacional on Wednesday, thanks to the aid of video assistant referees who awarded the J. League champions a critical first-half penalty.
Shoma Doi connected on the penalty, and Kashima scored twice more in the second half through Yasushi Endo and substitute Yuma Suzuki as Antlers stunned the South American champions.
Antlers will play the winner of Thursday’s semifinal in Yokohama between Real Madrid and Club America. The final is Sunday.
“They attacked us so well I’m glad we finished with a clean sheet,” Kashima manager Masatada Ishii said. “We persevered and persevered and now we’re in the final.
“We’ve got one more game which we hope to win. We will be fighting for all of Japan.”
The scene that prompted the review occurred in the 28th minute, when Kashima won a free kick which Endo took, but was cleared by Nacional.
Play continued until a couple of minutes later, when referee Viktor Kassai stopped the game after the video assistant referees alerted him that Daigo Nishi may have been brought down by Orlando Berrio away from the ball on the free kick.
Kassai confirmed the foul on a monitor stationed by the far touchline, pointing to the spot to award Antlers the penalty. The replays were shown on the screens at Suita Stadium in Osaka Prefecture, and clearly caught Berrio hooking Nishi with his leg.
Doi stepped up to the spot, clinically converting to give Kashima the lead. Naomichi Ueda was on target with a header five minutes later, but it was just saved by Franco Armani as Nacional kept it a one-goal affair heading into halftime.
The visitors poured it on after the break, but Antlers pulled away, with Endo and Suzuki netting on the counterattack to seal the triumph.
“I know there are a lot of Real fans in Japan, but I hope they will be rooting for Kashima because we will be playing for the entire country,” Doi said.