ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates. Victor Guzman’s late headed goal (110′) was enough for Pachuca to overcome the rampant Wydad Casablanca in their Club World Cup quarterfinal tie.
From the opening whistle, the Tuzos were put under pressure early and often by the 14-time Moroccan champions. Often in the game’s opening half, the pressure came by way of dribbles through the midfield and interceptions off of failed buildup passes from the Pachuca rearguard and midfield. But the Wydad attack, centered on 23-year-old striker Achraf Bencharki ultimately could not find shots on targets due to recovery by Pachuca’s defense.
Still, the Tuzos struggled in regular time to establish effective attacks through the midfield. Summer signing Keisuke Honda, who was a rotation player during the Apertura, seemed the most willing to take on the Wydad traps and beat them on an occasion or two.
But as the game wore on, luck started to turn in the Tuzos‘ favor. An injury to Wydad goalkeeper Zouhair Laaroubi meant that the Tuzos could be more individualistic and shot-happy in their attack, knowing the goalkeeper would be thinking about his knock when he’d react for a save. Then, in the 69th minute, the Tuzos gained a man advantage when Wydad captain and volante Brahim Nakach was sent off for a rash tackle on Jorge ‘Burrito’ Hernandez.
Keisuke Honda and Jonathan Urretaviscaya continued to be the main protagonists for the Tuzos, receiving and making chances on Laaroubi’s goal. But a young second half substitute, 18-year-old Erick Sanchez, helped to facilitate many of those chances.
When the match wore on into added extra time, Sanchez’s boldness to break the Wydad pressure proved valuable for the CONCACAF champions, as they were able to generate a couple chances early on.
But it was Wydad Casablanca, through the shot Reda Hadjouj, who had the best clear chance to score. In the 109th minute, Hadjouj received the ball with space to shoot, but his left-footed shot could only find the side netting at Hadjouj’s near post.
Two minutes later, Victor Guzman opened the scoring when he placed a looping headed finish to Emmanuel Garcia’s cross beyond the diving Laaroubi. Guzman’s cross had been set up by a long ball from Laaroubi.
With the win, Pachuca advances to face Gremio in Al-Ain in a semifinal match that will kick off on Tuesday, December 12 12:00 PM Eastern Standard Time (UTC -5). Meanwhile, Wydad Casablanca will next face off against AFC Champions Urawa Red Diamonds the same day in a battle for fifth place. That match kicks off at 9:00 AM EST (UTC -5).