Real Madrid faces Club America in World Cup semi-final


Silvio Romero struck twice as Mexican side Club America beat Asian champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 2-1 on Sunday to set up a Club World Cup semi-final with Real Madrid.

Local favourites Kashima Antlers salvaged some pride for Asia, however, when the Japanese title holders toppled South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns 2-0 in the day’s second quarter-final in Osaka.

In the early kick-off, Kim Bo-kyung swept Jeonbuk, who defeated the UAE’s Al Ain in the Asian Champions League final last month, in front after 23 minutes before Romero pounced twice to send the Concacaf representatives through to the last four.

The Argentine striker equalised with a clinical header just before the hour mark and volleyed home the winner via a slight deflection off Jeonbuk forward Kim Shin-Wook after 74 minutes as the Korean side wilted under mounting pressure.

Club America, who also beat Jeonbuk in the quarter-finals of the Fifa tournament 10 years ago, will face European champions Real Madrid, led by Cristiano Ronaldo, in Yokohama on Thursday.

The hulking Kim Shin-Wook, instantly recognisable with his peppermint green mohican, was a constant menace but well shackled by markers in a tense finish as the Mexican side clung on for the win.

Kashima, who came from behind to beat part-timers Auckland City 2-1 in the tournament’s curtain raiser on Thursday, were gifted their opening goal by Sundowns goalkeeper Denis Onyango in the 63rd minute.

Latching on to a knock-down from Shoma Doi, Yasushi Endo scuffed his left-foot shot which somehow squeezed under Onyango, bobbling out of his despairing grasp and over the line almost in slow motion.

Substitute Mu Kanazaki killed the game off by smashing home from close range with two minutes left after more sloppy defending from the Africans.

Kashima, fresh from clinching their eighth J-League title last weekend, will face South American Libertadores Cup holders Atletico Nacional of Colombia in the competition’s first semi-final on Wednesday.

Spanish giants Madrid are scheduled to arrive in Japan early Monday morning local time.