Raja Casablanca converted a late penalty to upset Ronaldinho’s Atletico Mineiro 3-1 on Wednesday and set up an unexpected encounter with Bayern Munich in the FIFA Club World Cup final.
The Moroccan club are to play the Champions League winners tomorrow after an improbable victory set off by captain Mohsine Moutaouali’s 84th-minute penalty, awarded when Atletico defender Rever was judged to have tripped Mouhssine Iajour inside the area.
Iajour had put the local favorites ahead in the 51st minute in front of more than 35,000 fans at the Marrakech Stadium, before Ronaldinho equalized for the Brazilian team via an exquisite free-kick in the 63rd.
However, stunned Atletico coach Cuca could only look on in silence as Raja substitute Vivien Mabide put the result beyond doubt with a stoppage-time goal.
Now the Moroccan side must pull off an even bigger upset over Bayern.
“Who would have believed we would come to this,” Raja manager Faouzi Benzarti said through a translator.
Despite Ronaldinho’s equalizer, the playmaker left the field red-eyed after the Copa Libertadores champion’s unexpected loss.
Ronaldinho was mobbed by jubilant Raja players, who competed for his jersey, some even untying laces to remove his shoes as a souvenir of perhaps their most memorable night of soccer. The more than 10,000 Atletico fans left in a state of shock, many sobbing.
Atletico certainly did not look the expected class above Raja, who used their speed on the counter to upset Atletico’s backline of Leonardo Silva and Rever, who was exposed throughout, but especially in the deciding spot-kick.
Raja defender Zakaria El Hachimi celebrated the penalty by performing “the worm” along the grass.
“In every team there are some drawbacks and I felt they were very slow,” said Benzarti, who has won all three games since taking over coaching duties just before the start of the tournament. “To score three goals against a great team is not a bad thing.”
The second goal came as Atletico looked set to avoid an embarrassing upset, but the Brazilian squad’s poorly organized defense left it open to too many attacks as Iajour unleashed a low shot in between Lucas’ legs to open the scoring with his second goal of the tournament.
Ronaldinho stuck to the script and provided his team’s heroics as he curled a free-kick over the defensive wall to curl inside the far post to equalize, but Mabide had no trouble volleying home Moutaouali’s shot after it came off the crossbar.
Earlier, Monterrey of Mexico thrashed Al-Ahly of Egypt 5-1 for fifth place.