OSAKA: Kashima Antlers became the first Asian side to reach the Club World Cup final when they beat Colombia's South American champions Atletico Nacional 3-0 on Wednesday.
Kashima's first goal came after 33 minutes when Shoma Doi converted a penalty given for an off-the-ball trip by Orlando Berrio on Daigo Nishi after video evidence was used to award a spot kick for the first time in a FIFA competition. Yasushi Endo scored the Antlers' second after 83 minutes when he took advantage of an error by goalkeeper Franco Armani to backheel a loose ball into the empty net.
Atletico's heads went down and two minutes later substitute Yuma Suzuki, who came on seconds earlier, sidefooted a third from close range after Mu Kanazaki's perfect ball across goal.
It was the third time in seven years that a South American side had failed to reach the final of the tournament, which is contested by the world's continental champions plus the hosts.
Japan's J-league champions will next face the winners of Thursday's semi-final between Real Madrid and Mexico's Club America. The final is scheduled for Sunday.
"They attacked us so well I'm glad we finished with a clean sheet," Kashima manager Masatada Ishii was quoted as saying by the Kyodo news agency. "We persevered and persevered and now we're in the final. "We've got one more game which we hope to win. We will be fighting for all of Japan."
Atletico were the better side, especially in the first half, and finished with 24 shots at goal to Kashima's 10.
However, they could not find a way past Kashima's veteran goalkeeper Hitoshi Sogahata - who won the man of the match award - and paid the price when they were caught on the break.
"We hit the bar and we had clear chances and those would have given use the composure to play our game," Atletico coach Reinaldo Rueda said. "We're very sad."
The loss in their 83rd match of the year capped a traumatic few weeks for Atletico.
The Copa Libertadores champions were scheduled to face Chapecoense in the final of the Copa Sudamericana in November but a plane crash killed most of the Brazilian side as their flight approached Medellin and the game was cancelled.
Atletico asked for the trophy to be awarded to the Brazilian team to honor the victims after 71 passengers and crew died.
Two weeks of mourning followed in Colombia and Brazil, upsetting Atletico's preparations for the Club World Cup.
They were not helped by the video assistance which is being used at the tournament to review 'match-changing' decisions.
Hungarian referee Viktor Kassai was called to the side of the pitch after half an hour to watch an incident replayed on a computer.
Kassai adjudged Berrio to have tripped Daigo as the players moved into the box to challenge for a free kick.
Although Daigo looked to be in an offside position, the penalty was awarded and Shoma made no mistake from the spot.