Manel Exposito (L) of Auckland City controls the ball
during the FIFA Club World Cup match between Sanfrecce
Hiroshima and Auckland City in Yokohama, Japan. (Photo by
Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
Auckland City's journey at the FIFA Club World Cup is
over, after they were beaten 1-0 by J-League champions
Sanfreece Hiroshima in Yokohama last night.
It was a spirited performance from the Oceania champions, who
defended with great resolve throughout the match but fell
behind to a wonder strike from Toshihiro Aoyama in the 66th
The game opened up in the final 20 minutes and in injury time
Auckland City even threatened a Cinderella finish, with Adam
Dickinson finding himself in space 12 yards out but lifting
his shot just over the bar.
"That would have been special," said coach Ramon Tribulietx,
"but it wasn't to be. We are all very disappointed but
overall we have to be pleased with our performance. It is a
massive task to come to Japan and take on the J-League
champions. They have fantastic players and obviously are a
better team than us."
"It's hard to sum up how we feel," said captain Ivan
Vicelich. "It's hard to be positive when you lose but we
performed well. For long periods I thought we were dealing
with everything that they had to throw at us even though they
were creating a lot. We were hanging in there well."
Hiroshima coach Hajime Moriyasu paid tribute to Auckland
City, after promising earlier in the week that his side
"would show them how the game is played at J-League level".
"That fought very hard and were physically quite strong,"
said Moriyasu, "so they made it hard for us. But we knew that
if we kept playing football they would get tired and I think
that is what happened in the last 30 minutes."
For Auckland City goalkeeper Tamati Williams was outstanding,
making several fine saves including a double stop moments
before the Hiroshima goal. Vicelich and Angel Berlanga
comprised a solid defensive wall at the back and Albert Riera
was a tireless worker in midfield. Dickinson showed great
strength and determination as he often ploughed a lone furrow
up front while Luis Corrales added impetus as a second half
Apart from goalscorer Aoyama, the entire Hiroshima midfield
had solid matches, with Mihael Mikic creating havoc down the
right hand side as the local team enjoyed almost 60 per cent
of possession across the match.
On a bitterly cold night in Yokohama, coach Ramon Tribulietx
opted for his traditional 4-3-3 formation, with Andrew Milne
replacing the injured James Pritchett at right fullback and
Williams getting the nod in goal.
Auckland had precious few chances in the first half and had
to wait almost 12 minutes for their first sustained spell in
possession. The opportunities that did come weren't
capitalised on; twice Dickinson flashed crosses across from
near the byline but nobody was present to take advantage.
They also forced the first corner of the match and had free
kicks in promising positions but all were wasted by poor
execution and delivery.
The boisterous Hiroshima fans among the crowd of 25,174 were
on their feet several times in the first half - Williams was
forced into a double save moments before the Hiroshima goal
and made several other fine stops.
As well as Aoyama's long range strike, which looked to be
heading over the bar but dipped wickedly into the net, the
Japanese side also shaved a post and hit the crossbar with
Sanfreece Hiroshima 1 (Toshihiro Aoyama 66'), Auckland City
0. Halftime: 0-0.
- Michael Burgess of the Herald on Sunday in Yokohama