Japan's Kashima Antlers downs Auckland at Club World Cup

The Antlers, which captured its eighth J-League title last weekend, will face South Africa's Mamelodi Sundowns this weekend for the right to take on Colombia's Atletico Nacional in the first semifinal on December 14.

Kashima Antlers midfielder Mu Kanazaki (centre) heads home the winner.   -  AFP

A late winner from substitute Mu Kanazaki helped Japanese champion Kashima Antlers survive a scare and beat Auckland City 2-1 to reach the Club World Cup quarterfinals on Thursday.

The tournament curtain raiser here kicked off following a minute's silence in memory of the victims of the recent Colombian plane crash which all but wiped out Brazilian team Chapecoense. The 100th match in Club World Cup history also featured the first-ever trial of video assistant referees.

READ: >Use of video technology in FIFA Club World Cup

But the technology remained unused in a game that did little to set pulses racing -- at least until Korean defender Kim Dae-Wook rose to meet an Emiliano Tade free-kick with a bullet header five minutes into the second half.

Another substitute, Shuhei Akasaki, slammed in Kashima's equaliser in the 67th minute and Japan striker Kanazaki nodded in from close range two minutes from time to complete the comeback.

"It was our first appearance in the tournament and we knew it would be difficult but going behind wasn't ideal obviously," said Kashima coach Masatada Ishii. "They caught us with a set piece but we didn't panic," he added. "I believed we could come back and the two substitutes did a great job."

The Antlers, which captured its eighth J-League title last weekend, will face South Africa's Mamelodi Sundowns this weekend for the right to take on Colombia's Atletico Nacional in the first semifinal on December 14.

Spanish giant Real Madrid, led by Cristiano Ronaldo, is scheduled to arrive in Japan on Monday as it look to win its second world title in three years.

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