Atlante will face Barcelona in the semi-finals of the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2009 after a 3-0 win over a brave yet outclassed Auckland City side. Daniel Arreola, Christian Bermudez and Lucas Silva scored the goals to send the Oceania champions into the play-off for fifth place, where they will meet TP Mazembe.
The gulf in standard between the two sides was quickly apparent, with Atlante monopolising possession from the outset. Auckland, to their credit, defended resolutely and, largely, limited their opponents to half-chances.
One of these fell to Jose Gonzalez, whose crisp volley from the edge of the box went narrowly over the crossbar. The elegant No5 then turned provider, setting up Rafael Marquez for a chance which he fired wide.
Arreola then gave Marquez a sight on goal, but his effort was saved by Jacob Spoonley. Lee Ki-Hyung registered City’s first shot on goal on 33 minutes, but his long-range effort failed to trouble goalkeeper Federico Vilar.
Atlante finally broke their opponents’ resistance on 36 minutes. Auckland failed to clear a corner and the ball fell to Arreola inside the box. He needed no second invitation, burying the ball into the bottom corner to the delight of the vibrant Mexican fans inside the Zahed Sports City Stadium.
The second half started in much the same manner, with Atlante pushing forward at every opportunity, and only a perceptive interception from Auckland centre-back Ivan Vicelich denied Marquez a clean run on goal on 53 minutes.
However, the Oceania champions swiftly and unexpectedly found their rhythm. Chad Coombes almost scored from distance, before Adam Dickinson missed a golden chance to equalise from close range.
After a somewhat nervy period, Atlante finally doubled their advantage on 69 minutes, when Bermudez collected the ball inside the box and fired the ball past Spoonley.
Still, the brave Kiwis refused to throw in the towel. Coombes immediately broke up the other end and forced Miguel Martinez into a decisive, sliding interception when substitute Grant Young appeared destined to tap home the intelligent cross.
Thereafter, Atlante regained control of possession. Marquez then fluffed his lines when clean through on goal, and only the poor control of Lucas Silva let Auckland off the hook.
Paul Posa's side's two-goal deficit soon became three, Silva putting the icing on the cake with a neat finish following an impressive team move in injury time.