Asian champions Seongnam Ilhwa of South Korea crushed local side al-Wahda 4-1 on Saturday to set-up a Club World Cup semi-final showdown with European champions Inter Milan.
Mauricio Molina, Asian player of the year Sasa Ognenovski, Choi Sung-kuk and Cho Dong-geon were all on target with Fernando Baiano hitting the Persian Gulf team’s consolation.
“Our opponents had some good individuals, but collectively we’re a notch above. Whatever the result against Inter Milan, the fact we find ourselves rubbing shoulders with them at a competition like this is a great honor and an exceptional opportunity,” Seongnam coach Shin Tae-yong said.
“Losing by such a margin proves that they were better than us, but the way we started the match hurt us very badly. When you’re already 1-0 down after four minutes it becomes an uphill struggle,” al-Wahda coach Josef Hickersberger said.
The South Koreans were ahead after just four minutes when a mix-up between Hamdan al-Kamali and goalkeeper Adel al--Hosani allowed Colombian midfielder Molina to score into the unguarded net from 20 yards.
Al-Wahda were level on 27 minutes when Baiano headed Eisa Ahmed’s cross beyond goalkeeper Jung Sung-ryong.
However, Seongnam were back in front on the half-hour mark when their Australian captain Ognenovski headed in from six yards.
That became 3-1 with 19 minutes remaining when an unmarked Choi scored following some good work from Cho.
Cho added the fourth, heading in a Molina cross beyond al-Hosani.
Seongham Ilhwa will face Inter Milan on Wednesday with Internacional of Brazil tackling African champions Tout Puissant Mazembe tomorrow in the first semi-final.