Urawa fall to Manchester City, will play for FIFA Club World Cup third place

Urawa fall to Manchester City, will play for FIFA Club World Cup third place

Urawa Reds’ quest to become world champions ended on Tuesday with a 3-0 defeat to England’s Manchester City in the FIFA Club World Cup semi-finals. Now, the Reds will turn their attention to Friday’s third place match, where they will take on Egypt’s Al Ahly in a bid to equal the club’s best ever finish at a Club World Cup.

Urawa came out ready to defend against the UEFA champions, leaning upon their Meiji Yasuda J1 League-best defense to keep them in the match. It worked well, as they limited City’s chances and kept stars like Jack Grealish, Bernardo Silva and Phil Foden in check.

The Reds didn’t allow any clear chances for much of the first half and looked reasonably dangerous the few times they got on the counterattack, though they were unable to turn those opportunities into shots on target. The match was going much as they had drawn it up, but that changed in first-half stoppage time when Marius Høibraten’s sliding attempt to clear a low cross put the ball in his own net.

Down a goal at half, the Reds had to change their approach. They opened up in pursuit of an equalizer, but that left them more vulnerable at the back. That gave City the opportunities they needed as Mateo Kovacic and Silva each found the back of the net before the hour mark to put the match to bed.

It was always going to be difficult for Urawa against a team as good as City and for a large chunk of the match, they looked up for the task defensively. Unfortunately, a bit of bad luck in the waning moments of the first half turned the match and City's ruthless attack put its stamp on the game in the second 45.

Urawa will now take on Al Ahly in a match up of the Asian champions and the African champions. The Reds have met CAF Champions League winners in both of their previous Club World Cup appearances, beating Wydad AC from Morocco in 2017 for fifth place and taking down Étoile Sportive du Sahel of Tunisia in the third place match 16 years ago.