Cruz Azul made their Club World Cup debut in the pouring rain in Rabat, Morocco, against Asian champions Western Sydney Wanderers. La Máquina needed an 89th-minute penalty kick to equalize and send the game to extra time, where they rallied for a 3-1 win against an Australian team that was reduced to nine men.
The field wasn’t in the best condition to begin with, and the rain made matters much worse. It took the teams a while to adjust to the conditions as best they could. Western Sydney had the first good chance of the game, when Matthew Spiranovic’s header forced a save out of Jesús Corona in the 11th minute, but Cruz Azul responded through Marco Fabián, who sent a powerful shot just wide of the post.
Possession was evenly split in the first half, but it was the CONCACAF champions who controlled play. Nevertheless, they had nothing to show for it and the teams went into halftime 0-0.
Cruz Azul continued to control the game in the second half, despite the weather and field conditions, but the Wanderers were able to capitalize on one of their few chances. A poor clearance fell to Iacopo La Rocca, whose strike from 25 yards out found the corner to give Wanderers the 1-0 lead, against the run of play, in the 65th minute.
Cruz Azul immediately went looking for an equalizer, and they were helped by Spiranovic picking up his second yellow card of the game in the 73rd minute. With the man advantage, Cruz Azul dominated the game further and they mercilessly peppered goalkeeper Ante Covic, who kept his side in the game with a string of fine saves.
When Marco Fabián was fouled in the box by Shannon Cole in the dying moments of the game, Cruz Azul was given an opportunity to equalize from the penalty spot. Gerardo Torrado stepped up for La Máquina and sent his spot kick past Covic to send the game to extra time.
Wanderers’ captain Nikolai Topor-Stanley was then sent off in extra time in a bit of a comedy of errors type situation; a 57th minute foul committed by Seyi Adeleke had gone into the book under Topor-Stanley’s name. He hadn’t realized the error at the time, and was then sent off after picking up what he thought was his first yellow card of the game.
Down to nine men, Wanderers were unable to withstand the continued onslaught of Cruz Azul, who went in front in the 108th minute through Mariano Pavone. A late handball by Mateo Poljak gave La Máquina a second penalty kick in the 118th minute. Torrado converted it for his second goal of the match.
With the 3-1 win, Cruz Azul advances to the semifinals to face Real Madrid, while Western Sydney Wanderers will contest the fifth-place match against ES Sétif.
Cruz Azul: José de Jesús Corona, Fausto Pinto (Ismael Valadéz 78′), Francisco Rodíguez, Julio César Domínguez, Gerardo Torrado, Mariano Pavone, Mauro Formica, Xavier Baez (Joao Rojas 69′), Gerardo Flores, Marco Fabián, Christian Giménez.
Western Sydney Wanderers: Ante Covic, Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Brendan Hamill, Labinot Haliti (Tomi Juric 68′), Mateo Poljak, Nikita Rukavytsya, Iacopo La Rocca, Matthew Sprianovic, Romeo Castelen (Shannon Cole 78′), Mark Bridge, Seyi Adeleke (Antony Golec 72′).