Kashima Antlers have reached the semi-finals of the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2016 after a 2-0 defeat of African champions Mamelodi Sundowns at Suita Stadium.
With just two days of rest after their play-in victory over Auckland City FC, Kashima struggled to find their pace and frequently found themselves on the defense against the South African club.
Goalkeeper Hitoshi Sogohata in particular made several big saves to keep the half-time scoreline locked at 0-0.
The balance shifted after Mu Kanazaki came on shortly after the hour mark, with Shoma Doi centering Shuhei Akasaki’s cross from the right before Yasushi Endo broke the game open in the 63rd minute with his goal.
Kanazaki, the hero against Auckland City, scored his second straight Club World Cup goal in the 88th minute to seal Kashima’s date with Copa Libertadores holders Atletico Nacional in Wednesday’s semi-final.
In the other quarter-final match, CONCACAF champions Club America overcame Kim Bo-kyung’s early goal to defeat Asian representatives Jeonbuk Hyundai 2-1, with Silvio Romero scoring twice in the second half.
The Mexican side will face European titans Real Madrid on Thursday in Yokohama.