Kashima Antlers achieved a historic 3-0 victory over Colombia’s Atletico Nacional on Wednesday night to become the first Japanese club to reach the FIFA Club World Cup Final.
The first half at Suita Stadium saw goalkeeper Hitoshi Sogahata make several big stops against the Copa Libertadores champions.
But the match changed completely in the 30th minute when, in a first-ever in a FIFA-sanctioned competition, Antlers were awarded a penalty kick after the Video Assisted Replay (VAR) system showed Daigo Nishi pulled down in the penalty area by Orlando Berrio.
Shoma Doi converted from the spot to give Antlers a 1-0 lead, which they protected from a strong Nacional attack until the 83rd minute when Yasushi Endo cooly healed in the team’s second goal of the match after a defensive error.
Yuma Suzuki made it 3-0 two minutes later with his first touch of the match, sending the J.League champions to what will be a hotly-contested showdown on Sunday night with either CONCACAF champions Club America or UEFA champions Real Madrid for the right to be known as the world’s top club.
In the fifth-place match which took place earlier on Wednesday, AFC champions Jeonbuk Hyundai defeated CAF representatives Mamelodi Sundowns 4-1.