By Brian Homewood
MARRAKECH, Morocco, Dec 17 (Reuters) - South American champions San Lorenzo needed extra-time to see off the gallant challenge of Auckland City as they beat the New Zealand part-timers 2-1 in the Club World Cup semi-final on Wednesday.
Auckland’s unlikely dream of facing European champions Real Madrid in Saturday’s final in Marrakech ended when substitute Mauro Matos fired San Lorenzo’s winner four minutes into extra-time.
The rank outsiders had given San Lorenzo an almighty scare when Angel Berlanga equalised in the 67th minute to cancel out Pablo Barrientos’ opener for the Argentines in first-half stoppage time.
San Lorenzo will attempt to become the first Argentine side to win the tournament since it began in its current format in 2005, although they face a near-impossible task if Wednesday’s poor display is anything to go by.
Auckland had battled their way past host team Moghreb Tetouan on penalties and African champions ES Setif without conceding a goal as they became the first Oceania side to reach the semi-finals.
In a scrappy first half, they created an early opening when Argentine Emiliano Tade wriggled free and had a low shot saved by San Lorenzo goallkeeper Sebastian Torrico.
San Lorenzo offered little threat until Emmanuel Mas broke to the byline and pulled the ball back into the middle of the area to Barrientos, who fired a left-foot shot just inside the near post.
However, neither the goal nor non-stop singing from around 5,000 of their fans could inspire San Lorenzo and they were stunned by an equaliser in the 67th minute.
Tade’s pass through the heart of the defence evaded San Lorenzo Torrico and ran loose to Angel Berlanga who slotted home from an acute angle.
The game suddenly came to life and San Lorenzo went close with a brilliant effort by Martin Cauteruccio who flicked the ball over an opponent and crashed a dipping volley against the post.
Auckland replied immediately as Ryan de Vries found Tade free on the left but, with a chance of glory beckoning, he scooped his shot high and wide.
Substitute Matos finally settled matters when he fired home a loose ball as San Lorenzo became the third Argentine side to reach the final after Boca Juniors in 2007 and Estudiantes in 2009.
Editing by Ed Osmond