Sanfrecce Hiroshima narrowly missed out on a spot at the Club World Cup final after River Plate defeated them 1-0 in the semi-finals on Wednesday.
A sole Lucas Alario strike was enough to propel the South American giants to a win over their Japanese counterparts, where a potential clash with European treble winners Barcelona awaits.
Sanfrecce more than held their own in their encounter, with Marcelo Barovero’s outstanding display between the posts just being enough to keep River in the match.
Yusuke Minagawa and Yusuke Chajima both posed a serious threat in the first half whenever Hajime Moriyasu’s men broke forward on the counter-attack, with the pair forcing their opponents’ goalkeeper into several fine stops.
The Argentines, however, picked their moment to strike and Alario capitalised on Takuto Hayashi’s mistake dealing with a free-kick to head into an empty net.
Sanfrecce will now turn their attention to Sunday’s third-place play-off against the losers of Thursday’s match between Barcelona and Guangzhou Evergrande.
The Japanese champions will then have a week to recuperate, before they travel to face FC Tokyo in the Emperor’s Cup quarter-finals.