OSAKA, Japan (Reuters) - Kashima Antlers became the first Asian side to reach the Club World Cup final with a 3-0 win over Atletico Nacional on Wednesday, helped by a penalty awarded for the first time with the help of a video replay.
Kashima’s first goal came after 33 minutes from Shoma Doi’s spot kick, after an off-the-ball trip by Orlando Berrio on Daigo Nishi, given for the first time in a FIFA competition after the referee reviewed video evidence at the side of the pitch.
Yasushi Endo scored the Antlers’ second goal after 83 minutes when he took advantage of an error by goalkeeper Franco Armani to backheel a loose ball into the empty net at the Suita City Football Stadium.
Atletico’s heads went down and two minutes later Kashima substitute Yuma Suzuki, who came on seconds earlier, sidefooted a third from close range after Mu Kanazaki’s ball across goal.
It was the third time in seven years that a South American side has failed to reach the final of the tournament, which is contested by the world’s continental champions plus the hosts.
Japan’s J-league champions will next face the winners of Thursday’s semi-final between Real Madrid and Mexico’s Club America. The final is scheduled for Sunday.
“We’ve made it to the final, which is an achievement for Kashima Antlers and Japanese football as a whole,” said Antlers’ coach Masatada Ishii.
“We really wanted to go and win this game, and all the players were committed and contributed to the win. They posed a threat on several occasions, but we defended very well as a team, just as we’ve been doing all season.”
Atletico were the better side, especially in the first half, and finished with 24 shots at goal to Kashima’s 10.
However, they could not find a way past Kashima’s veteran goalkeeper Hitoshi Sogahata - who won the man of the match award - and paid the price when they were caught on the break.
“This is football and there were situations where the opposition dictated terms and others where we weren’t as effective as we needed to be in a game like this against a team whose main asset is their ability to stick to a gameplan and be tactically disciplined,” Atletico coach Reinaldo Rueda said.
“We became disorganised after the first goal. We created a few chances but we couldn’t put them away, while they made no mistakes.”
The loss in their 83rd match of the year capped a traumatic few weeks for Atletico.
The Copa Libertadores champions were scheduled to face Chapecoense in the final of the Copa Sudamericana in November but a plane crash killed most of the Brazilian side as their flight approached Medellin and the game was cancelled.
Atletico asked for the trophy to be awarded to the Brazilian team to honour the victims after 71 passengers and crew died.
Two weeks of mourning followed in Colombia and Brazil, upsetting Atletico’s preparations for the Club World Cup.
They were not helped by the video assistance which is being used at the tournament to review ‘match-changing’ decisions.
Hungarian referee Viktor Kassai was called to the side of the pitch after nearly half an hour to watch an incident on a computer. Kassai adjudged Berrio to have tripped Daigo as the players moved into the box to challenge for a free kick.
Although Daigo looked to be in an offside position, the penalty was awarded and Shoma made no mistake from the spot.
Writing by Andrew Downie; Editing by Ken Ferris