Sanfrecce Hiroshima wins Club World Cup opener

Toshihiro Aoyama scored in the second half Thursday to lift J-League champion Sanfrecce Hiroshima over Auckland City 1-0 in the opener of the Club World Cup at Yokohama, Japan.
Hisato Sato of Sanfrecce Hiroshima heads the ball in Thursday's 1-0 win over Auckland City. (Toshifumi Kitamura/Getty Images)

Toshihiro Aoyama scored a second-half goal Thursday to help J-League champion Sanfrecce Hiroshima beat Auckland City 1-0 in the opening match of the Club World Cup at Yokohama, Japan.

Aoyama scored in the 66th minute with a hard shot from 20 yards. Ryota Moriwaki nearly doubled Sanfrecce's advantage in the 85th with a shot that hit the crossbar.

"Our playing style is everybody going for the attack," Aoyama said. "We could have scored more if we had capitalized on our opportunities."

Thursday's match marked the first time FIFA has employed goal-line technology. The magnetic-field-based system GoalRef will be used for the matches in Yokohama, while the matches at Toyota Stadium will be equipped with the camera-based Hawk-Eye system.

The ninth Club World Cup features the champions from FIFA's six confederations, plus a team from the host nation. Champions League winner Chelsea and Copa Libertadoes champion Corinthians have a bye into the semifinals.

Sanfrecce controlled the pace of Thursday's match as the semi-pro side from New Zealand struggled to mount any kind of consistent attack.

"I knew [Auckland City] would get tired as the match progressed," Sanfrecce coach Hajime Moriyasu said. "So we were able to open up space and create chances."

With the win, the Japanese club advances to Sunday's quarter-finals against African champion Al-Ahly of Egypt in Toyota, Japan.

"We have only two days of rest before the next match," Moriyasu said. "I hope the players can adjust their condition and we can progress in the tournament."

Sanfrecce had the first scoring chance of the game in the eighth minute when Aoyama sent a shot from just inside the 18-yard box that Auckland City goalkeeper Tamati Willams had to dive to stop.

Sanfrecce nearly scored in the 20th when Yojiro Takahagi's sublime corner kick hit the post. The rebound went directly Koji Morisaki, who sent a strike that Williams batted away with both hands.

Takahagi was denied again by the post in the 51st as Sanfrecce kept the pressure on Auckland City.

Japan national team goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa was rarely tested in the opening half, with Auckland City taking only two shots on goal. But Auckland City nearly equalized in injury time when Adam Dickinson hit one over the bar.

Auckland City, the Oceania Champions League winner, was playing in its fourth Club World Cup, while Sanfrecce is making its first appearance in the tournament.

"We have to be happy with the game we played," Auckland City coach Ramon Tribulietx said. "Don't forget, we are an amateur side.

"It's not easy coming up here to play Hiroshima in Japan."