English Premier League football team Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata (centre) looks on while team-mate Frank Lampard (right) signs autographs for Japanese fans upon their arrival at Narita International Airport in Narita, suburban Tokyo, yesterday.
Toyota, Japan: European champions Chelsea will face Monterrey in the semi-finals of the Club World Cup after the Mexican side defeated South Korea’s Ulsan Hyundai 3-1 in Japan yesterday.
In the intercontinental tournament’s other quarter-final, Al Ahly of Egypt beat J-League winners Sanfrecce Hiroshima to set up a dream last-four tie with Brazilian giants Corinthians.
CONCACAF champions Monterrey went through thanks to two goals from forward Cesar Delgado and one from midfielder Jesus Corona, in a match that saw the camera-based goal-line technology Hawk-Eye used for the first time.
The victory at a largely empty 36,000-capacity Toyota Stadium avenged Monterrey’s defeat in the same round last year when they crashed out on penalties to Japan’s Kashiwa Reysol.
“The experience of last year was really helpful to us,” Monterrey coach Victor Vucetich said.
“This time we were better prepared. We knew Ulsan had a lot of tall players so we tried to pass (along the ground) and break their style (of play).
“Chelsea are a well-known team in the world but we are confident and we are not going to lose any hope. We will be playing to win.”
Monterrey were dealt a blow less than 24 hours before kick-off with the news that star striker Humberto Suazo would not be fit for the match, but the absence of the Chilean was quickly forgotten as the Mexicans started brightly.
Corona opened the scoring after just nine minutes with the easiest of tap-ins at the back post following an inch-perfect pass across goal by striker Aldo de Nigris.
Monterrey continued to press forward and De Nigris missed a golden opportunity just two minutes later when he headed straight at Ulsan goalkeeper Kim Young-Kwang from close range.
Midway through the first half it was Ulsan centre-forward Kim Shin-Wook who missed when it looked easier to score, the number nine failing to get enough on a header from the edge of the six-yard box following an in-swinging free kick.
Monterrey also looked the brighter of the two sides at the start of the second half.
De Nigris again went close with a header, then moments later the men in orange had a goal rightly disallowed for offside.
The second goal finally came on the 77-minute mark. Following neat interplay between Monterrey’s forwards the ball kindly broke to Delgado who side-footed it into the back of the net without difficulty.
Shortly afterwards the AFC Champions League winners were further behind.
Delgado collected the ball on the edge of the box on 84 minutes and expertly took it round an Ulsan defender before placing it in the corner, leaving goalkeeper Kim with no chance.
A strike from long range by Asian player of the year Lee Keun-Ho, which deceived Monterrey goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco, proved to be nothing more than a consolation.
Ulsan coach Kim Ho-Gon said: “We analysed our opponents and prepared for the match but we were simply just not able to play in our own style.
“Our opponents had really great organisational and individual skill, and we were not able to make the match ours or fully leverage our capabilities,” he added, saying his charges lacked experience of playing in “such a big game”.
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.
Al Ahly, seven-time African champions, will take on Copa Libertadores winners Corinthians in Toyota on Wednesday. Monterrey will play Chelsea at Yokohama International Stadium the next day.
Neither of yesterday’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.