Kashima Antlers have completed the line-up for the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2016, having been crowned Japanese J1 League champions on away goals following a 2-2 aggregate draw with Urawa Red Diamonds, reports FIFA.com.
The hosts looked to be cruising after Shinzo Koroki added to Urawa’s 1-0 first-leg lead, but a double by Mu Kanazaki was enough for Kashima to clinch an overall victory and take on the world’s continental champions next week. Kashima will now kick off the Club World Cup against Auckland City on 8 December.
Koroki got the ball rolling in impressive style in the season finale, in front of almost 60,000 fans decked out in red - both side's home colours, volleying in against his former club after just seven minutes to put Urawa in a commanding position. They could have been out of sight, too, had Yuki Muto’s drilled effort – following a driving, twisting, turning run – had been a few inches lower. Instead, it rattled the face of the Kashima bar.
Muto had another chance to wrap up the game inside the first half, but a tremendous last-ditch tackle from Gen Shoji was enough to deflect his effort just wide. It proved crucial as, with time running out in the opening period, Kanazaki stopped to connect with a diving header to give his team and the fans hope of an upset.
They pushed forward in the second period and, like Muto before them, struck the face of the bar – this time through Shoma Doi – as they searched for that crucial goal. It came thanks in part to substitute Yuma Suzuki, who tripped the Urawa offside trap and was hauled down by Tomoaki Makino in the area. Kanazaki made no mistake – firing into the top left corner and sealing Kashima’s first title since 2009.