Saturday, December 13, 2008

Comeback kings Pachuca book semi-final showdown

Mexican club Pachuca have booked a semi-final showdown with Ecuador's LDU Quito in the 2008 Club World Cup, after they conjured a thrilling come-from-behind 4-2 victory to see off Egyptian side Al-Ahly in their quarter-final clash in Tokyo.

Al-Ahly raced out to a two-goal lead in front of an enthusiastic crowd at the National Stadium, as an own goal from defender Fausto Pinto and another from Angolan-born striker Flavio just before half-time gave the African giants a commanding lead at the break.

Pachuca coach Enrique Meza responded by introducing midfielders Juan Carlo Rojas and Luis Montes in the second half, and the move paid immediate dividends as Montes scored just two minutes after the restart, although his free-kick appeared to take a slight deflection on its way in.

Comeback kings Pachuca book semi-final showdown.
In a classic game of two halves Pachuca equalised through an even better set-piece from Argentine midfielder Christian Gimenez, as he blasted a free-kick over the wall and passed the despairing dive of Al-Ahly keeper Abdelhamid Amir with twenty minutes remaining.

The Mexicans enjoyed a wealth of possession in this match, but despite dominating the second half they were unable to conjure a winner.

Instead Pachuca rode their luck when Al-Ahly playmaker Mohamed Aboutrika went down in the box with eight minutes remaining, but rather than point to the spot Uzbeki referee Ravshan Irmatov opted to brandish a yellow card for simulation.

With a small pocked of Pachuca fans getting right behind their team and the chants of "Ole Tuzos!" ringing around the National Stadium, it appeared only a matter of time before Enrique Meza's team took the lead.

Al-Ahly had struggled to contain the pace and penetration of Pachuca's wide men all game, and with the Egyptians at sixes and sevens in defence the impressive Damian Alvarez turned the game on its head as he scored Pachuca's third eight minutes into extra time - although there was a hint of fortune as he benefited from two lucky ricochets before blasting home on the volley.

Forced to push every man forward in search of an equaliser, Al-Ahly conceded again in the second period of extra-time, as Christian Gimenez scored his second and Pachuca's fourth of the afternoon.

Al-Ahly were disconsolate in defeat but Pachuca fully deserved their win, with the Mexicans keeping their heads and displaying some impressive attacking football, despite being two goals down at half-time.

Pachuca's win sets up a dream semi-final showdown with South American representatives LDU Quito in Tokyo, and Pachuca will fancy their chances of coming out on top of that all Latin-American clash at the National Stadium.

Copyright © Michael Tuckerman & Soccerphile.com

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