Bayern Munich made predictably light work of Asian champions Guangzhou Evergrande, dispatching the Chinese side 3-0 in their Club World Cup semi-final and hitting the woodwork five times on Tuesday.
Guangzhou, coached by Italy World Cup winner Marcello Lippi, held out for 40 minutes, gifted the European champions two soft goals in quick succession, conceded another right after halftime and defended heroically in the second half to keep the score respectable.
Bayern’s shots against the woodwork included one effort from Toni Kroos which bounced down off the underside of the crossbar and on to the line, and which goal-line technology showed did not enter the goal.
The German side’s goalkeeper Manuel Neuer did not have a shot to save, but kept himself entertained with some South American-style forays outside his penalty area.
Despite the gulf in class, Guangzhou were no more out of their depth than many of the other hapless teams who have faced the Bavarians recently in the Champions League and Bundesliga.
“Today, we saw the real difference between us and the strongest team in the world,” Lippi told reporters. “But it’s not just us, they play with this superiority against everyone else.”
The stadium was less than one-third full at kick-off, but filled during the match. There was an unusual atmosphere, with a small contingent of Bayern fans singing traditional songs at one end, while the rest of the crowd chanted the name of local club Hassania Agadir.
Guanghzou enjoyed less than 10 minutes of possession in the first half and failed to cope with Bayern’s pressing, struggling to get out of their own third of the field.
Thiago Alcantara hit the post with a shot on the turn and Jerome Boateng sent a long-range effort swerving wide, then Kroos saw his effort thump against the bar.
Lippi had warned his team before the game that all mistakes would be ruthlessly punished and that was exactly what happened before halftime.
Guangzhou were five minutes from the break when they failed to clear the ball and Franck Ribery scored with a shot which went under goalkeeper Zeng Chen, who should have stopped the ball.
Four minutes later, Huang Bowen lost possession on the edge of the area and Thiago Alcantara chipped the ball across to the far post, where an unmarked Mario Mandzukic stooped to head the second.
The second half had barely started when Mario Goetze added a third with a looping shot from outside the area which took a slight deflection off a defender.
Bayern had a succession of chances to increase their lead, hitting the post three more times. Goalkeeper Chen made several good saves to atone for his earlier mistake and his teammates defended with dogged determination to keep the Bavarians at bay.
“We played good possession, we didn’t give them the chance to counter,” Bayern coach Pep Guardiola said. “You always have to play well, take it seriously and stay focused.”
Bayern are to face either Atletico Mineiro or Raja Casablanca, who were scheduled to meet in the other semi-final yesterday, in the final.