Kashiwa Reysol eased past New Zealand amateurs Auckland City 2-0
in a pedestrian opening match of the Club World Cup on Thursday.
The curtain-raiser for a tournament graced by Barcelona's
involvement failed to set pulses racing but briefly burst into
life late in the first half at Toyota Stadium.
Junya Tanaka smashed home a left-foot shot from an acute
angle in the 37th minute that whistled past Auckland goalkeeper
Jacob Spoonley at his near post.
Three minutes later Masato Kudo doubled Reysol's lead,
poking home the loose ball after Hiroki Sakai's header had come
back off the upright, triggering panic in Auckland's defence.
Reysol now face Mexico's Monterrey at the weekend for the
right to play South American champions Santos of Brazil in the
The newly crowned J-League champions never seriously
threatened to add to their lead in the second half against an
Auckland side lacking any sort of thrust in attack.
Kashiwa goalkeeper Takanori Sugeno produced a super save to
claw away a Dave Mulligan free kick as the New Zealanders made a
rare foray out of their own half late in the game.
A thick fog which made visibility a problem came as a
blessing, Monterrey players watching on from the stands looking
bored and spending much of their time phone texting.
Only 18,000 fans braved the cold to watch the game in
central Japan, although both semi-finals and the final - to be
played in Yokohama - are sold out.
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