Thursday, December 19, 2013

Morocco's Raja Casablanca make Club World Cup Final

On Wednesday December 18, in front of 40,000 ecstatic fans in Marrakech, Raja Casablanca achieved the seeming impossible - beating Ronaldinho's Atletico Mineiro to the Club World Cup final 
Raja Casablanca will challenge Bayern Munich in the final on December 21. They did not even qualify for the tournament, taking part only because they are the champions of the host country - making their achievement all the more impressive.

Their decisive three-to-one victory came in the last 10 minutes of the match, when they scored twice.

Raja, who qualified as champions of host nation Morocco, took the lead early in the second half when Mouhssine Iajour was sent clear on the right and fired a low shot past Victor. But former Barcelona and AC Milan star Ronaldinho curled a free-kick in off the post to level for the South American champions.

Raja regained the lead in the 83rd minute when Rever was judged to have tripped Iajour, although replays suggested no contact was made.

Mohaine Moutaouali fired home the controversial penalty in the 83rd-minute and Vivien Mabide wrapped it up in the fourth minute of stoppage time with a breakaway goal, much to the delight of their Tunisian-born 63-year-old coach Faouzi Benzarti. He has enjoyed three spells at the helm of his national team and also won the African Champions League in 1994 with Esperance.

There were incredible scenes at the end as the Raja players surrounded Ronaldinho to ask for his shirt and took off his boots.

Mineiro, who had spent six months dreaming of the tournament since they won the Libertadores Cup, slunk disconsolately away, leaving their army of 10,000 fans with a long, painful journey back to Belo Horizonte.

Raja will now face European champions Bayern in Saturday's final in Marrakesh.

It will be only the second time since the tournament has been played in its current format in 2005 that the final has not been between a South American and European team.

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