Pohang Steelers FC’s Brazilian striker Denilson fulfilled his pre-match promise to wow the United Arab Emirates fans as two superb second-half strikes helped his South Korean side to a 2-1 victory over TP Mazembe on Friday, earning them a place in the semi-finals of the FIFA Club World Cup.
Denilson, who moved to South Korea after spending six years with various clubs in the UAE, was on target twice — in the 50th and 78th minutes — to deny the Congolese club, who had raced ahead in the 28th minute after a strike from Mbenza Bedi.
Asian champions the Steelers will now take on Argentine side Estudiantes de La Plata, winners of the 50th edition of the Copa Libertadores earlier this year, in the semi-finals.
Steelers coach Sergio Farias said: “We were unduly nervous at the start. We failed to take our best chances and we lost concentration. Their goal took us by surprise and we were unable to impose ourselves on the game the way we wanted to after that.”
“We corrected this mistake at halftime and duly equalized as a result,” Farias said. “We turned up the pressure again by bringing on another striker and we went on to score the winning goal.”
At the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium, TP Mazembe dominated the first few minutes until the Steelers got their act together. Kim Jae-sung made the first meaningful attempt, but his shot was deflected by Mazembe goalkeeper Muteba Kidiaba.
The Steelers almost went ahead in the 23rd minute when a superb free-kick by No Byung-jun was heading for the top corner, but was deftly tipped away by Kidiaba.
Mazembe took the lead in the 28th minute when Bedi latched on to a Mputu pass and he rammed home past the outstretched right arm of Shin Hwa-yong.
The goal spurred the Steelers and they made several good moves. It started with an exquisite Denilson pass which drilled a hole in the Mazembe defense, but Namkung Do could only shoot straight into the hands of Kidiaba.
Just before halftime, Denilson, Do and Jae-sung had unsuccessful attempts on goal and there was no let-up in the second half either.
Kidiaba made a great save to deny No in the 49th minute, but parity was restored by Denilson a minute later, when he headed home a pass from No.
Mazembe had a great chance to regain the lead in the 63rd minute when Ekanga sent Kabangu clear, but he shot wide from just inside the box.
It was all over for Mazembe when Denilson scored again in the 78th minute. Manager Diego Garzitto made several substitutions in the Congolese club line-up in the last few minutes, but the Steelers defense held on easily.
A disappointed Garzitto said: “It was hardly our best evening.”
“The Koreans were better than us in the air, we were at a disadvantage in that respect. We kept it on the floor and made chances, but unfortunately we weren’t determined enough to take them,” he said.