Three days after winning the Play-off for the Quarter-Finals, Auckland City won their second FIFA Club World Cup Morocco 2014 match, sinking ES Setif 1-0 in a rainy Complexe Sportif Prince Moulay Abdellah in Rabat. The victory sends the Oceanic champions into the semi-finals for the first time, where they will face CONMEBOL kings San Lorenzo in Marrakech on Wednesday.

Auckland enjoyed the better spell of play early on, with chances coming from Ivan Vicelich and Fabrizo Tavano but the first real chance fell to Setif’s Mohamed Benyettou 20 minutes in. The Algerian side's No9 was not able to keep his header on target, however, and missed wide.

Ryan De Vries dispossessed the Setif backline in the 30th minute and took a shot from the top of the area, missing just wide as well. A few minutes later a melee in Setif’s box nearly led to the opening goal but some brave defending cleared the danger before Auckland could find a clear shot on target. 

Just before the stroke of half-time, Angel Berlanga chipped Setif goalkeeper Sofiane Khedairia, but his effort glanced off the top of the crossbar to keep the score level as the two teams went into the break scoreless.

Auckland City found their opening goal shortly after the break through an unlikely source.  A Navy Blues’ corner snuck through a crowd in the middle of the area and fell to centre-back John Irving. Auckland’s No6 calmly touched it around his defender and found the near corner past Khedairia’s outstretched fingertips. 

Auckland hold on
Tamati Williams – Auckland’s hero in the penalty shoot-out win against Tetouan on Wednesday – made some crucial stops for the Oceanic side, the best of which was to deny Benyettou’s close-range effort in the 61st minute. The final 20 minutes had a frentic pace about it, with Setif searching for the equaliser and Auckland looking to make their lead safe, and the rains only made the game quicker.

An Auckland counter-attack nearly doubled the Navy Blues’ advantage but Khedairia was able to deny De Vries’ shot. Benyettou continued to be a menace for Auckland’s backline, his acrobatic side-volley missing wide from 12 yards in the 75th minute. De Vries could have put the game out of reach 12 minutes from time after beating his man with a clever first touch but his curling shot went wide of the far post. Sofiane Younes’ snapping header also missed wide, which proved to be Setif’s last chance to get back into the game.

It was all hands on deck in the back for Auckland as the Navy Blues saw out the final few minutes and rejoiced as they secured their spot in the semi-finals for what will be a challenging contest against San Lorenzo, while Setif will regroup to prepare for the Match for Fifth Place.