Asian champions Gamba Osaka beat back a strong challenge from Adelaide United of Australia yesterday to win their quarter-final of the Club World Cup 1-0.
Yasuhito Endo, the most valuable player of the AFC Champions League tournament, scored the only goal of the game in the 23rd minute to secure the win for Gamba.
The hard-fought victory granted Gamba the right to face European champions Manchester United in the semi-final on Thursday in Yokohama.
Midfielder Takahiro Futagawa fed the ball from behind to striker Ryuji Bando, who headed it inside the box to a charging Endo, who found the net.
The more than 38,000 fans had hoped for an easier win for the Japanese side, but Gamba’s other attacks failed to find the net.
Gamba easily beat Adelaide twice last month to win the two-leg Champions League final 5-0 on aggregate, their first regional title. But Adelaide battled throughout the match yesterday, launching waves of attacks on the Gamba defense, particularly toward the end of the game.
In the 13th minute, skipper Travis Dodd charged forward on his own from the middle of the pitch, passed Gamba’s defenders and fired off a powerful shot that went just wide.
In the 42nd minute, another Dodd header from a Scott Jamieson cross came agonizingly close. It traveled above Gamba keeper Yosuke Fujigaya’s and hit the bar.
South American champions Liga de Quito of Ecuador are to face Pachuca of Mexico in the other semi-final.