RABAT (Reuters) – Auckland City avoided their customary preliminary round exit at the Club World Cup when they beat host team Moghreb Tetouan on penalties after a dismal goalless draw on Wednesday.
The New Zealand part-timers, who qualified as champions of Oceania and are making a record sixth appearance at the tournament, reached the quarter-finals for only the second time and, in doing so, poured cold water on local enthusiasm.
Tetouan had qualified as Moroccan champions and were looking to follow in the footsteps of Raja Casablanca who were swept all the way to the final last year on a wave of national passion before losing to Bayern Munich.
Both teams missed one penalty each in the shootout before Mehdi Khallati struck Tetouan’s final attempt against the post to give Auckland a 4-3 win.
The opening 90 minutes produced only one real chance which fell to the New Zealanders before halftime when Ryan De Vries found Emiliano Tade unmarked near the penalty spot but he missed what seemed to be a certain goal after a poor first touch.
Tetouan, backed by a fervent home crowd, had the better of extra time but the visitors were again more dangerous and Angel Berlanga was just wide with a diving header from a cross by De Vries.
Auckland City will face African champions ES Setif of Algeria in the quarter-finals on Saturday. European champions Real Madrid and South American champions San Lorenzo enter the fray at the semi-final stage.