Penalty relief for spirited Pachuca
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Club de Futbol Pachuca battled back from two goals down to finish fifth at the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2010, beating Al-Wahda Sports Club 4-2 on penalties after an incident-packed 2-2 draw at Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Sports City Stadium. Even after being reduced to ten men, the UAE champions looked to have secured victory when they established a 2-0 lead with 13 minutes remaining, but a late comeback led by Pachuca supersub Dario Cvitanich saw the game decided on spot kicks.

With a flat atmosphere and both sides seemingly nursing hangovers from their quater-final defeats to Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma FC and TP Mazembe Englebert respectively, it took time for this match to catch fire. Pachuca enjoyed marginally the better of some low-key opening exchanges, with Herculez Gomez providing the game’s first noteworthy effort, breaking beyond the Al Wahda defensive ranks only to slice a left-foot shot wide of the target from 16 yards.

However, Al Wahda came back into the match as half-time approached and after Fahed Masoud had twice tested the reflexes of Miguel Calero with ambitious direct free-kicks, Ismaeil Matar gave the Abu Dhabi club the lead a minute before the interval. Bruno’s pace and power enabled him to race away down the left flank and the Brazilian midfielder delivered an inch-perfect cross for Matar, who cushioned a volley beyond Calero from just outside the six-yard box.

Pachuca were stunned. They had been gifted arguably the first half’s best chance just a few minutes earlier, which Luis Montes had blasted wide after a mis-hit clearance from Hamdan Al Kamali had landed at his feet. And having ended the first half on a low note, Pachuca very nearly began the second just as badly. The fans had barely retaken their seats when Al Wahda’s Modibi Diarra, on as a half-time substitute, almost made an explosive impact, crashing in a left-foot shot from 35 yards that Calero could only gather at the second attempt.

Pachuca steadily upped the pressure at the other end, however, and Adel Al Hosani was called into action twice in the space of five minutes, first tipping over a delicate Alejandro Manso chip and then fisting clear from a powerful Paul Aguilar volley. Al Hosani was again the hero shortly after, blocking with his legs from Franco Arizala, although Pachuca’s best chance to restore parity came when the same player earned a 73rd-minute penalty.

The offending Al Wahda player, Mahmoud Al Kamali, earned a second yellow card for the offence, but the Mexicans couldn’t take full advantage, with substitute Edgar Benitez blasting his spot kick high into the night sky. It looked like proving a decisive moment, as Al Wahda – even with 10 men – proceeded to double their advantage inside just four minutes later, Mahmoud Al Hammadi firing home from an acute angle after Calero had parried his initial effort.

However, Pachuca weren’t finished yet and Dario Cvitanich ensured a nervy finale with eight minutes remaining, volleying into the roof of the net from Arizala’s excellent cross. Then, with just a minute left on the clock, the Pachuca substitute struck again, cheekily back-heeling into the net from close range after Arizala had again delivered an inviting cross from the right.

That left the outcome to be determined by a penalty shoot-out, and it was Calero who emerged as Pachuca’s spot kick hero, blocking with his legs from Abdulraheem Jumaa before Diarra blasted over Al Wahda’s subsequent kick to seal the hosts' fate.