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2018 FIFA Club World Cup, Quarterfinals
  • Mohamed Ahmed (2')
  • Hussein El-Shahat (16')
  • Bandar Al Ahbabi (60')

Al-Ain seal Club World Cup final place with victory over Esperance

GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images

Host side Al-Ain upset African champions Esperance of Tunisia 3-0 on Saturday to reach the semifinals of the Club World Cup.

Defender Mohamed Ahmad put Al-Ain in front two minutes into the quarterfinal, getting on to the end of a cross from Rayan Yaslem and scoring from close range.

The UAE champions went 2-0 up in the 16th minute through a Hussein Elshahat strike into the bottom corner from inside the box, and midfielder Bandar al-Ahbabi scored a close-range goal in the 60th minute for 3-0.

Al-Ain will play South American champions River Plate, of Argentina, in Tuesday's semifinal.

"It's a great pleasure to play the winners of the Copa Libertadores ... we will try and make it difficult for River," Al-Ain coach Zoran Mamic said.

Esperance controlled possession for most of the game but struggled to take advantage, managing just one shot on target from 18 attempts.

The Tunisian side's coach Mouine Chaabani said he was disappointed with his team's performance, telling reporters they had lost their focus after the first goal.

"All the players were thinking individually, not collectively," he said.

Al-Ain, who qualified as champions of the host nation and played in front of 21,333 spectators at their home Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, piled on the pressure whenever they had the ball.

"When the team is focused on the game like today the result is coming from this discipline, from this concentration, this focus. I'm very, very proud of my team," Mamic said.

Japan's Kashima Antlers came from behind to beat Mexico's Chivas Guadalajara 3-2 in Saturday's earlier game, earning a place in Wednesday semifinal against European champions Real Madrid.