Japanese League champion Sanfrecce Hiroshima has progressed to the quarterfinals of the 2012 FIFA Club World Cup after a 1-0 victory over Auckland City on the strength of a Toshihiro Aoyama goal midway through the second half.
Sanfrecce Hiroshima started the game brightly crafting out numerous chances, with Auckland City goalkeeper Tamati Williams making several saves in the first half.
Williams was first called into action in the 7th minute, when Hisato Sato hit a powerful shot from distance. The goalkeeper then had to be alert in the 18th minute to palm away Koji Morisaki’s effort after Yojiro Takahagi struck the woodwork with his corner.
Auckland City center back Takuya Wata then nearly scored an own-goal in the 28th minute when he tried to cut out a cross, and his clearance was almost diverted into goal before Williams reacted quickly to keep the ball out.
After the break, Sanfrecce Hiroshima continued to threaten with Takahagi hitting the woodwork yet again.
The goal frame withstanding, the Auckland City custodian was also in an uncompromising mood, as Williams made a diving save to deny Sato’s header, and recovered to keep out Morisaki's point-blank attempt.
In the 66th minute, though, there was nothing Williams could do about Aoyama’s shot, as the midfielder was allowed time and space to thunder in an effort into the top corner to give Sanfrecce Hiroshima a deserving lead.
Auckland City tried to come back into the game but failed to maintain possession, while Sanfrecce Hiroshima always looked the more likely to score of the two.
The New Zealand representatives finally managed to carve out a decent opportunity when substitute Emiliano Tade was put through down the left, but his shot from a tight angle was tame and easily gathered by Tukuya Masuda.
The Japanese side nearly doubled its lead in the 85th minute and was in disbelief after hitting the woodwork for the third time with Ryota Moriwaki's scorcher from the edge of the box.
Auckland City nearly found the equalizer in injury time, but Adam Dickinson hit his shot just over the bar to leave the club heartbroken after crashing out at the same stage for the second consecutive year.
Sanfrecce Hiroshima will now face Al Ahly in the tournament quarterfinals, with the winner drawing Brazilian power Corinthians in the semifinals.