Golden year for New Zealand football continues with win at Club World Cup.
|Denilson, left, was denied a hat-trick minutes from the end [AFP]|
Two goals from Denilson steered South Korea’s Pohang Steelers to a 2-1 comeback victory over African champions TP Mazembe in Abu Dhabi.
The win secured them a place in the Fifa Club World Cup semi-finals against their South American counterparts Estudiantes de La Plata.
Democratic Republic of Congo’s Mazembe went ahead after 28 minutes when midfielder Mbenza Bedi unleashed a shot from more than 25 metres into the bottom far corner against a constant backdrop of brass and drum music from a small but loud group of African fans.
Brazilian Denilson equalised for the Asian champions five minutes into the second half with a close-range header from No Byung-jun’s chipped cross from the right to the far post.
He then struck the winner 12 minutes from time when he beat the offside trap to race through and beat Muteba Kidiaba with a low shot between the keeper’s legs.
“We have a young side and there were some grotesque mistakes, perhaps due to the nerves of the occasion,” Pohang’s Brazilian coach Sergio Farias told a news conference.
He said that in the second half “we used the wings more and took off a striker (Namkung Do) to put on a player (Hwang Jin-sung) who could help give the attack more width.”
It quickly became evident a goal would come from Mazembe’s defensive frailties at one end or the sheer exuberance of their attacks at the other.
Another factor in the equation was the Steelers’ very poor finishing in the first half and the flashy but brave goalkeeping of Kidiaba.
Mazembe went ahead when an attack crossed the front of the Pohang defence before returning to the middle where Bedi’s shot just beat the late dive of keeper Shin Hwa-yong who was unsighted in the Korean side’s goal.
The Congolese side had survived an early free kick by Kim Jae-sung that took a deflection off the head of a defender and was pushed out at the last gasp by Kidiaba.
The keeper also dived sharply to his left to push away a free kick by No midway through the first half.
Kim Jae-sung, one of four Kims in the starting line-up, shot poorly and straight at Kidiaba with two chances later in the first half when put through on his own as Mazembe failed to catch the Koreans offside.
Kidiaba also beat out a diving header at point blank range from striker Namkung Do, who also headed wide a minute before half-time.
|Denilson, left, takes on Mazembe’s midfielder Mbenza Bedi [AFP]|
Mazembe captain Mabi Mputu was just wide with a shot in first-half stoppage time that underlined the African champions’ willingness to try from distance.
Forward Mulota Kabangu should have put Mazembe ahead again on the hour when he was put through unmarked in the middle but shot wide of the advancing Shin.
Steelers substitute Hwang Jin-sung should have done the same for the Koreans but shot weakly in the 68th minute.
Denilson was denied a hat-trick at the end when Kidiaba saved well at his feet.
Mazembe now face a play-off for fifth place on Wednesday.
They will play the loser of Saturday’s other quarter-final between Oceania champions Auckland City from New Zealand and Mexico’s Atlante, who are the North and Central American champions.