FIFA Club World Cup: More disappointment for Monterrey, ousted by Raja Casablanca in the quarterfinals
It was more disappointment for the CONCACAF region at the FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco and once again it was Mexican side Monterrey doing the honors.
Los Rayados were shocked on Saturday by Moroccan champions Raja Casablanca, who needed extra time to claim a 2-1 quarterfinal victory on home soil at Agadir Stadium and set up a date with Brazilian side Atletico Mineiro on Wednesday, December 18, for a spot in the final.
Monterrey play in the 5th-place match against Egyptians Al-Ahly on the same day.
It was Monterrey's third straight year participating in the tournament as reigning CONCACAF champions, and it was the second time they failed to advance past the quarterfinals, dropping a penalty kick shootout to Japan's Kashiwa Reysol in 2011. They finished third overall last year, the best finish by a CONCACAF team since Costa Rica's Deportivo Saprissa came in third place in 2005.
On Saturday, an error by Mexican goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco gave Raja a 1-0 lead in the 24th minute as Chemseddine Chtibi had an easy tap-in after Orozco spilled the ball inside the six-yard box.
Monterrey would equalize in the second half through captain Jose Maria Basanta, who took advantage of a mismatch and headed home an Humberto Suazo free kick at the back post in the 53rd minute.
Just seven minutes later, Monterrey had their best chance to take a lead when Neri Cardozo was one-on-one with Raja goalkeeper Khalid Askri, but he failed to convert on the opportunity.
Then just five minutes into the 30-minute extratime, Ivorian national Kouko Guehi headed home on a corner kick to give his team the lead for good.
Monterrey outshot Raja 24-9, but they were rarely good looks in a meek attacking effort by the Mexican side. Suazo had one last chance at an equalizer in the closing seconds, narrowly missing the target on a lef-footed blast which would have sent the match to a penalty kick shootout.
"We had a lapse of concentration in our marking," said Monterrey forward Omar Arellano after the match, referring to the Raja game-winner. "We can't be pointing fingers. We win and lose together.
"We weren't strong enough," he continued. "And we just have to look forward."
Raja Casablanca, participating in the tournament as the host team, defeated Oceania champions Auckland City last Wednesday by the same 2-1 score. They will be looking for a third straight victory in the competition when they take the field against Ronaldinho and South American champs Atletico Mineiro.
The other semifinal takes place Tuesday and pits European Champions League winners Bayern Munich against Asia's best, China's Guangzhou Evergrande coached by Italian World-Cup winning coach Marcello Lippi.