Japanese side Urawa Red Diamonds have set themselves up a FIFA Club World Cup date with reigning European champions Manchester City after edging out Mexico’s Club Leon 1-0 in Friday’s match at the Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal Stadium in Jeddah.
Substitute Alex Schalk popped in with the winner for Urawa in the 75th minute, while Leon had to finish the match with 10 men following a red card to defender William Tesillo late into the second half.
It was Liga MX outfit Leon who started off brightly after kick-off, with Fidel Ambriz firing narrowly wide from some distance. It took Urawa 19 minutes to get their first chance of the game, after Tomoaki Okubo had fluffed his chance after he had gone one-on-one against Leon goalie Rodolfo Cota.
In the second half Urawa midfielder Atsuki Ito missed the target from a short distance nine minutes after the restart. However, Schalk seized the opportunity to score the winning goal, delivering a low effort past Cota. The setup for the goal came from Guinea forward Jose Kante, who positioned himself in the box.
With just six minutes remaining, Tesillo received a second yellow card and was sent off. Despite Schalk’s subsequent free-kick from the edge of the area being deflected narrowly wide, Urawa successfully held on to secure the victory, setting up a challenging match against tournament favorites Man City.
Urawa’s success wasn’t replicated by the other Asian side competing in the Club World Cup, Saudi champions Al-Ittihad. Despite boasting stars such as Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante, and Fabinho, Al-Ittihad went down 3-1 to African champions Al-Ahly, with the Egyptian side racing to a 3-0 lead before Benzema’s late consolation.