Cardozo on cue for Boca
© AFP

Boca Juniors were given a fright by CAF Champions League winners Etoile Sportive du Sahel in their semi-final match at Tokyo Stadium on Wednesday, but booked their place in the final of the FIFA Club World Cup with by the narrowest of margins.

Neri Cardozo's 37th minute strike proved to be the difference between the two teams in a game were chances were at a premium. Martin Palermo slid the ball to Rodrigo Palacio down the left hand side and he played a neat pass to the No19 who fired the ball high into the net from close range.

The goal galvanised Etoile, who had a good chance to equalise on the stroke of half-time. Mohamed Ali Nafkha found Amine Chermiti lurking on the edge of the area, but his left-footed shot from just inside the box was easily saved by Mauricio Caranta.

Etoile had more of the possession in the second half, but lacked the cutting edge needed to break down a resolute Boca defence. Their cause was helped, however, in the 65th minute when Fabian Vargas was sent off for a second bookable offence.

Despite the numerical disadvantage, Boca held firm and came close to adding another when Palacio skimmed the crossbar from 16 yards, while Palermo saw a header flash narrowly wide of the upright in the final few minutes.

In the final minute of normal time, Etoile substitute Gilson Silva hit the post with a close range header. The African champions can be proud of their efforts, but ultimately, it is the Argentinians who are celebrating a place in the final.