DOHA (Reuters) - A stunning long-range shot from Leonel Vangioni and an awful mistake by Gabi set CONCACAF champions Monterrey on their way to a 3-2 win over Al Sadd on Saturday and a place in the Club World Cup semi-finals against European champions Liverpool.
The Mexican side, who had to survive a second-half fightback by their opponents, were rewarded with a tie against England’s Premier League leaders, who have a bye to the last four, on Wednesday.
Al Sadd, who qualified as champions of host nation Qatar, were playing in their own stadium although their fans were outsung by a noisy contingent of Monterrey supporters behind one of the goals.
The stadium was only around half-full, a similar problem to that which dogged the recent world athletics championships held in Qatar, which will also host the 2022 World Cup.
The Mexicans hit the crossbar early on and went ahead when Vangioni collected the ball in midfield, took one touch and rifled a left-foot shot into the top-right hand corner of the net from 35 metres in the 23rd minute.
Al Sadd, coached by former Barcelona and Spain midfielder Xavi Hernandez, had more possession but Monterrey increased their lead in first-half stoppage time after an extraordinary misjudgement by Gabi, the host team’s most experienced player.
The former Atletico Madrid player sent a ball back deep into his own half from near the touchline but it was intercepted by Rogelio Funes Mori who scored easily.
Asian Footballer of the Year Akram Afif wasted a glorious chance to pull one back for the hosts by side-footing over the bar when unmarked but Baghdad Bounedjah did claw one back after getting in front of a defender to head in after 66 minutes.
Carlos Rodriguez then added a third for Monterrey in the 77th minute, before Abdelkarim Hassan pulled another back for Al Sadd in the 89th minute with a similar effort to Vangioni’s to ensure a nervy finale for the Mexicans.
Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Ian Chadband
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