After a spectacular opening ceremony dazzled the crowd at the Complexe Sportif Prince Moulay Abdellah in Rabat, Oceania champions Auckland City edged tournament hosts Moghreb Tetouan 4-3 on penalties after a scoreless 120 minutes in the opening match of the FIFA Club World Cup Morocco 2014.
It was a cagey opening 45 minutes in the play-off for the quarter-finals at the 11th edition of the Club World Cup. The two teams traded half-chances early on, requiring both goalkeepers to remain vigilant but the first real opportunity of the match, however, fell to the New Zealand side – making a record sixth appearance in the competition – ten minutes from the break.
Ryan De Vries’ pass found Emiliano Tade unmarked near the penalty spot but his first touch let him down and Tade’s effort went wide in what looked to be a certain opening goal. The missed chance seemed to swing momentum in the Oceanic side’s favour and the Navy Blues found themselves with more attacking spirit, but the two teams went into the interval scoreless.
The second half lacked any strong chances for either side, though both teams became more aggressive in their search for a goal with harsh challenges increasing the intensity of the match. The 35,247 supporters on hand maintained an excellent atmosphere inside the ground despite the lack of attacking football on display.
No goals after 90 minutes
Tetouan, making their debut at the Club World Cup, were the more dangerous of the two teams with set pieces and some good build-up play troubling the Auckland City backline throughout the 30 minutes of extra time, but the goal they were so desperately looking for never came.
Angel Berlanga nearly found the winner with nine minutes remaining for Auckland, connecting on De Vries’ cross with a diving header that narrowly missed. Tired legs led to a nervy penalty shoot-out as both sides stepped up to the spot exhausted.
Tim Payne opened the scoring for Auckland, sneaking his effort under Mohamed El Yousfi, who correctly guessed to his right. Tamati Williams saved Ahmed Jahouh’s shot as the Navy Blues took a 2-0 lead after John Irving confidently scored Auckland’s second. Zaid Krouch scored one for the hosts and El Yousfi was unlucky not to get a hand on Darren White’s penalty, which maintained Auckland’s two-goal margin.
Serigne Fall hit Tetouan’s first strong penalty, cutting Auckland’s lead to 3-2 and El Yousfi did well to deny Mario Bilen, allowing Tetouan to level the score at 3-3 when Zouheir Naim’s penalty went in off of Williams’ hand. Sanni Issa buried his shot into the top corner to give Auckland the advantage and Mehdi Khallati smashed his penalty into Williams’ left-side post to give the Oceanic champions a 4-3 win on penalties and a spot in the quarter-finals, where they will face CAF Champions ES Setif on Saturday.