Man City 3 Urawa Reds 0: Kovacic and Bernardo Silva net as Pep Guardiola’s men cruise into Club World Cup final
PEP Guardiola is 90 minutes from history after Manchester City crushed the Japanese Diamonds to reach the Club World Cup Final.
Second half strikes from Mateo Kovacic and Bernardo Silva sealed victory after Norwegian defender Marius Hoibraten diverted Nateus Nunes’ cross into his own net in first half stoppage time.
It was far too easy, with the Asian champions not having a single effort on goal until the game was long gone.
But Guardiola will not complain after his men showed their ability to simply smother the life out of limited opponents.
And it means the Spaniard and his team have closed in on becoming the first English side to win the five biggest trophies available in a single year.
Early sighters by Rodri – from fully 35 yards – and false nine Bernardo Silva, neither on target, came after City established total control of possession and position.
It felt like little more than an extended training exercise, Guardiola’s side passing and probing until the Japanese outfit buckled from their constant back-pedalling.
Even without Erling Haaland and Kevin de Bruyne – whose faces displayed on the giant screens at either end of the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium brought the loudest cheers of the night – City were far too good.
Yet for all that, the only real opening of the first half hour came when Jack Grealish teased a delicious cross that Bernardo could only help into the hands of keeper Shusaku Nishikawa.
Nishikawa was properly called into action when a smart turn by Mateus Nunes allowed the Portuguese to unleash a rising drive that was turned over the top.
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And when the keeper denied first Phil Foden and then Rodri, Urawa looked set to reach the break on level terms.
Cue a shocker, Hoibraten opting for a panicked stretch and turning Nunes’ low cross – nowhere near Foden – past the keeper’s left hand and into the bottom corner.
And when Kovacic raced onto Kyle Walker’s brilliant defence-splitting ball seven minutes into the second period, holding off the lone defender before smashing home, there was no way back for the Asian champions.
Nunes should have headed in the third from a Jack Grealish cross.
But soon after Nunes’ thumping effort was well-saved by the keeper only for Bernardo’s rebound to find the bottom corner after another deflection by the unfortunate Hoibraten.
Now only Brazilians Fluminense, including Real Madrid legend Marcelo, stand between City and that record.
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