- Al Jazira make it back-to-back wins to clinch Club World Cup semi-final spot
- Ali Mabkhout's second-half goal ends Urawa Red Diamonds' hopes
- Meeting with UEFA Champions League winners Real Madrid next in store
Al Jazira teed up a clash with Real Madrid in the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017 semi-finals, thanks to a solitary Ali Mabkhout goal seeing off Asian champions Urawa Red Diamonds.
While Urawa dominated possession, they struggled to make it count, having the organised UAE champions to try to unlock. When they did, their leading scorer on the domestic front, Shinzo Koroki, managed to fluff his lines remarkably from five yards, miscuing Yuki Muto’s cross.
The Japanese side were not punished before the break – Shusaku Nishikawa denying Mohamed Ayed’s header at his near post ensured that – but they were after. A superb defence-splitting Romarinho pass released Mabkhout and the United Arab Emirates international made no mistake, slotting through the keeper’s legs.
Urawa continued to dominate the ball, but wavelengths rarely aligned in the final third as Al Jazira were willing to bide their time and hit the Saitama side on the break, led by their impressive Brazilian. When Koroki spurned two further chances, one gifted to him by Ali Khaseif, the other a near-post toe-poke onto the outside of the upright, it looked firmly like it was not their night.
Takafumi Hori rolled the dice, throwing forwards on to try to alter the approach, but they could not find a way through the host champion’s rearguard and into the semi-finals.
Al Jazira will host holders Real Madrid on 13 December at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi.