San Lorenzo made the most of their maiden appearance at the FIFA Club World Cup with a 2-1 win in extra time of the semi-finals against a resilient Auckland City to set up a date in the final with European champions Real Madrid.
It was a game of strong challenges and several fouls with few chances for either team, but Pablo Barrientos and Angel Berlanga capitalised on either side of the interval, which forced the extra time period. Mauro Matos only needed three minutes to find a winner, which ultimately sent the Argentinian side through.
The first half started slowly with few chances for either side, but at the stroke of half-time Barrientos received a cross from the left side and buried a half-volley to give San Lorenzo a deserved lead heading into the break. The South American champions looked the likelier to the two teams to score in the second half, but Berlanga breathed life into his Oceanic side midway through the final 45 minutes.
A rare counter attack from Auckland City saw Ryan De Vries drive through the heart of San Lorenzo’s backline before the ball squeaked out to Berlanga, streaking down the edge of the box. Berlanga then did well to finish from an extremely acute angle to give Auckland City their equaliser.
Berlanga’s goal seemed to open things up a bit, and ten minutes later Martin Cauteruccio nearly put San Lorenzo back in the lead with a wicked side volley from the top of the area but the Argentinian No9 was denied by the woodwork. Only moments later Emiliano Tade had an even better chance to but the OFC champions ahead. The No20 was clear in on goal but a heavy first touch led to a mishit shot that veered well wide
It took less than three minutes of extra time for San Lorenzo to reestablish their lead when Matos finished with a simple strike from 16 yards out following a missed clearance. Barrientos was battling in the middle of the box and John Irving looked to poke the ball clear but instead it feel straight to Matos, who had no hesitation finding the back of the net.
Tamati Williams came up with a big save against Cauteruccio towards the end of the first period of extra time to keep Auckland within reach of the South American champions. And in the second period of extra time, Tim Payne nearly brought Auckland level again but his effort struck the post. San Lorenzo were able to hold on for the remaining few minutes and now await a showdown against Real Madrid on Saturday.