World Football – Mazembe stun Internacional to reach final
Mulota Kabangu scored a stunning goal against the run of play to give TP Mazembe a surprise lead with 53 minutes played, before Dioko Kaluyituka made sure of the victory with an equally impressive second with five minutes left to play – firing a viciously-struck, perfectly-placed shot inside Renan’s right-hand post from the edge of the area.
Four-times African champions TP Mazembe failed to win a single game at the 2009 Club World Cup, but came into the match with Copa LIbertadore-holders Internacional brimming with confidence after their 1-0 win over Mexican side Pachucha in the quarter-finals.
However, with no team outside the UEFA and CONMEBOL federations have ever reached the Club World Cup final before, the Congolese side seemed to have little hope of ousting Internacional – winners of the showpiece tournament in 2006.
Bidding to become the first club to lift the Club World Cup trophy twice, Internacional made a predictably lively start against the Congolese underdogs – almost opening the scoring with just 12 minutes played.
Celso Roth‘s side scythed through TP Mazembe’s midfield with crisp, one-touch passes, before the ball was swept invitingly across the face of goal from the left wing, towards the onrushing Rafael Sobis.
Sobis slammed a first-time, right-foot shot goalwards, only for TP Mazembe’s talismanic goalkeeper Muteba Kidiaba to somehow claw the ball clear, diving low to his left.
Despite continued early pressure, Internacional failed to test Kidiaba again in a lacklustre first half, despite coming close through headers from Tinga and Indio in the 18th and 20th minutes.
TP Mazembe, meanwhile, were largely restricted to long-range efforts through the first half, but Dioko Kaluyituka stung Renan’s hands with four minutes left to fire a clear warning to Celso Roth’s men.
The warning, it would seem, went unheeded – as Mulota Kabangu gave TP Mazembe a surprise lead with just eight minutes played in the second half.
Internacional’s veteran captain Bolivar afforded the 24-year-old Congolese striker far too much space to control a through ball in the penalty area, and Kabangu punished the Brazilians with a sumptuous curling shot inside the far post.
The goal knocked the stuffing out of the already out-of-sorts Internacional, but Kidiaba, once again, needed to be on top form to keep out Sobis’s vicious, one-on-one effort just five minutes later.
Celso Roth made a host of substitutions around the hour-mark to try and force an equaliser – bringing on the youthful trio of Giuliano, Oscar, and Leandro Damiao – and his changes almost paid dividends immediately.
Giuliano – on in place of Sobis – found himself in a one-on-one with Kidiaba in the 69th-minute, but once again the Congolese keeper dived low to his left to palm the strike clear.
With TP Mazembe’s goal seeming increasingly impenetrable, the unflagging Kaluyituka hammered the final nail in Internacional’s coffin with four minutes left of normal time – firing his expertly-placed low strike past Renan to secure a historic berth in the Club World Cup final.
The second semi-final takes place at 5pm (GMT) on Wednesday, with Rafa Benitez’s Internazionale taking on Seongnam Ilhwa, from South Korea.