11 Dec 2015

Auckland City out of Club World Cup

6:17 am on 11 December 2015

Japanese football champions Hiroshima beat Auckland City FC 2-0 in the opening game of the Club World Cup in Japan to book their place in the quarter finals.

Auckland City coach Ramon Tribulietx.

Auckland City coach Ramon Tribulietx. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Yusuke Minagawa and Tsukasa Shiotani found the net in each half as Auckland's assortment of semi-professionals - who remarkably finished third at last year's tournament in Morocco - were dispatched with relative ease in drizzly Yokohama.

Minagawa pounced from close range in the ninth minute after Auckland goalkeeper Jacob Spoonley had fumbled a shot from Gakuto Notsuda that fizzed up off the wet turf.

Shiotani squeezed home a second from an acute angle on 70 minutes following another Spoonley error as Hiroshima, who clinched their third J-League title last week, advanced to face Congolese side Mazembe in Osaka this weekend.

Auckland Coach Ramon Tribulietx was philososphical at the final whistle.

"We conceded an early goal and that made the game a little bit harder for us and they sat deep and made sure we didn't score an equaliser.

"We had 67 percent possession and while that doesn't win games we have to be proud we have achieved something like that coming from a country like New Zealand.

"We have proved to the world that we can keep the ball and we hope we can bypass situations like this in the future and keep growing as a team," he said.

European champions Barcelona and Argentina's River Plate, the South American Libertadores Cup holders, join the seven-team tournament at the semi-final stage next week.

Hiroshima, who beat Auckland 1-0 at the same stage of the competition in 2012, should have added to their tally in a game desperately short on quality.

If Spoonley - a lawyer by trade -- was guilty of carelessness for Hiroshima's goals, he partially redeemed himself with smart stops from Minagawa and Brazilian striker Douglas to keep the scoreline respectable for the Oceania federation champions.

Mazembe, once known as Englebert, will provide a stiffer challenge for Hiroshima on Sunday following the first quarter-final between Mexico's Club America and Luiz Felipe Scolari's Guangzhou Evergrande, the Asian champions.

Spanish giants Barcelona, who have won the Champions League, La Liga, the Copa del Rey and European Super Cup this year, are red-hot favourites to capture the world title for a third time under the current FIFA format, launched in 2000.

Barca boast a mesmerising front line of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez, although Brazilian Neymar could be a slight doubt after pulling up with a muscle strain in Wednesday's Champions League clash with Bayer Leverkusen.