Egypt’s Al-Ahly beat J-League winners Sanfrecce Hiroshima to set up a dream last-four tie with Brazilian giants Corinthians at the Club World Cup on Sunday.
Al Ahly, wearing black armbands in memory of the 72 fans who died in the Port Said Stadium disaster in February, started at a frenetic pace and got their reward after only 15 minutes when Elsayed Hamdi scored from inside the box.
Hiroshima levelled on 32 minutes when top scorer in the J-League last season Hisato Sato fired a shot underneath goalkeeper Sherif Ekramy as the Egyptians were down to ten men with Hossam Ghaly receiving treatment off the pitch.
The Japanese champions spurned two opportunities before the half-time whistle blew – chances they would rue 12 minutes into the second half when substitute Mohamed Aboutrika, on for Ghaly, pounced to score after a defensive slip-up.
Sato missed the best chance to equalise when he pulled a shot wide while clean through with nine minutes to go.
“It was a very difficult match,” Al-Ahly coach Hossam El Badry said.
“We were playing against a very organised team but we studied them well and deserve the win.”
Al Ahly, seven-time African champions, will take on Copa Libertadores winners Corinthians in Toyota on Wednesday.
In the earlier semi-final Mexico’s Monterrey set up a semi-final showdown against European champions Chelsea after defeating South Korea’s Ulsan Hyundai 3-1 in Japan.
Monterrey will play Chelsea at Yokohama International Stadium on Thursday.
Neither of Sunday’s games appeared to have a contentious goal-line incident for Hawk-Eye, which uses seven cameras to determine the trajectory and position of the ball, to judge.
Hawk-Eye is one of two systems FIFA are trialling at the tournament.
GoalRef, a magnetic-field-based technology, made its debut Thursday.