The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
Moroccan club Raja upsets Ronaldinho's Atletico Mineiro 3-1 to reach Club World Cup final
MARRAKECH, Morocco - Raja Casablanca converted a late penalty kick to upset Ronaldinho's Atletico Mineiro 3-1 Wednesday and set up an unexpected encounter with Bayern Munich in the Club World Cup final.
The Moroccan club will play the Champions League winner on Saturday after an improbable victory set off by captain Mohsine Moutaouali's 84th-minute penalty, awarded when Atletico defender Rever was judged to have tripped Mouhssine Iajour inside the area.
Iajour had put the local favourite ahead in the 51st before more than 35,000 fans at the Marrakech Stadium before Ronaldinho equalized for the Brazilian team from an exquisite free kick in the 63rd.
But stunned Atletico coach Cuca could only look on in silence as substitute Vivien Mabide put the result beyond doubt with a stoppage time goal.
Now the Moroccans must pull off an even bigger upset over Bayern.
"Who would have believed we would come to this," Raja coach Faouzi Benzarti said through a translator.
Despite Ronaldinho's equalizer, the Brazilian playmaker was the one leaving the field red-eyed after the Copa Libertadores champion's unexpected loss.
Ronaldinho was mobbed by jubilant Raja players who competed for his jersey, some even untying laces to remove his shoes as a souvenir of perhaps their most memorable night of football. The more than 10,000 Atletico fans left in a state of shock, many sobbing.
Atletico certainly did not look the expected class above Raja, which used its speed on the counter to upset Atletico's backline of Leonardo Silva and Rever, who was exposed throughout but especially in the deciding spot kick.
Raja defender Zakaria El Hachimi celebrated the penalty by performing 'the worm' along the grass.
"In every team there are some drawbacks, and I felt they were very slow," said Benzarti, who has won all three games since taking over coaching duties just before the start of the tournament.
"To score three goals against a great team is not a bad thing."
The second goal came as Atletico looked set on avoiding an embarrassing upset, but the Brazilians' poorly organized defence left it open to too many attacks as Iajour unleashed a low shot in-between Lucas' legs to open the scoring with his second goal of the tournament.
Ronaldinho stuck to the script and provided his team's heroics as he curled a free kick over the defensive wall to curl inside the far post to equalize, but Mabide had no trouble volleying home Moutaouali's shot after it came off the crossbar.
"They were quick and speedy off the counter, and we were not up to the challenge," Cuca said through a translator. "I'd like to apologize to all the fans that made the trip here from Brazil."
Bayern, which also won Bundesliga, German Cup, and European Super Cup trophies in 2013, had dispensed of Asian champion Guangzhou Evergrande 3-0 in Tuesday's other semifinal. The Chinese champions will play Atletico in Saturday's third-place game.
Earlier, Monterrey of Mexico thrashed Al-Ahly of Egypt 5-1 for fifth-place.
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