Italian powerhouses AC Milan lived up to their pre-tournament promise by beating
Urawa Red Diamonds 1-0 to reach the final against Boca Juniors in the Club World
Cup on Thursday.
Brazilian striker Kaka, who won the prestigious French Ballon d'Or for the
Player of the Year, produced a pin-point cross from the left for midfielder
Clarence Seedorf's goal in the 68th minute.
Boca, the Argentine giants, beat Etoile Sahel of Tunisia in the other semi-final
on Wednesday to meet Milan who are aiming for the first Club World Cup for
"I knew Kaka would cross the ball back. So I went straight into the line,"
Dutchman Seedorf said. "I was concentrated to kick it good, keep it low and that
Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti said: "Boca Juniors are a different type of team
from Urawa. They are opponents who have experience and history."
"But we came here to bring the Cup to Europe. We just try hard to accomplish our
goal," he added.
"I expect Boca Juniors to play aggressive, they are not a defensive team. For us,
it's important to win the trophy. Both teams try to win the Cup. It will be a
more difficult game than against Urawa. But we have high motivation."
Although the European champions allowed Urawa to hit the first couple of shots
at goal, they took control after 10 minutes with Andrea Pirlo firing a shot from
a free kick, which keeper Ryota Tsuzuki dived to save.
Soon afterwards, skipper Massimo Ambrosini just missed a header from a left
corner, and then Pirlo and Ambrosini failed to find the net, while Massimo Oddo
lacked accuracy in his cross from the right.
Roared on by a partisan home crowd, Urawa fought back bravely before the break,
but Takahito Soma's shots were too long and Keita Suzuki's shot from the edge of
the area was saved by Brazilian keeper Dida.
AC Milan dominated the second half, attacking the Japanese goal repeatedly with
shots by Marek Jankulovski, Seedorf, Kaka and Alberto Gilardino.
And it was just a question of when the Italians would score the first goal.
"The game would have been different if we scored earlier," Seedorf said. "Urawa
did a good job against us. They made our life difficult."
Kaka said he saw Seerdorf and striker Flippo Inzaghi in front of the goal. "I
fed the ball to Seedorf because he was more ready to catch it."
"We must prepare ourselves for the final as anything could happen," he said. "We
made a few mistakes and we need to readjust ourselves."
Urawa's German coach Holger Osieck was proud of his team's performance despite
the defeat, saying: "I congratulated my players in the dressing room for their
gutsy and good performances."
"I think basically we represented the Japanese football well in this tournament,
particularly in this game. Now we have another incentive, another game on Sunday.
Of course, we want to finish third. That's our target, so we are looking ahead,
we are not looking back. We'll see what Sunday brings."