TANGIER – Mohamed Afsha scored on a deflected shot in the 88th minute and sent Al Ahly into the Club World Cup semifinals by beating the Seattle Sounders 1-0 on Saturday.
Afsha scored after coming on as a substitute in the 63rd. He lifted Al Ahly into the semifinals for the third straight year, and brought an abrupt end to the first appearance by a team from the United States in the competition.
His initial shot from outside the penalty area hit the crossbar. Seattle was unable to clear the danger and Afsha’s second attempt deflected off defender Alex Roldan and bounded past goalkeeper Stefan Frei.
It was the only shot on target by the Egyptian club as both sides played a heavily defensive game where chances at goal were limited.
Al Ahly will face Real Madrid in the semifinals next Wednesday in Rabat. Al Ahly has not lost a match in any competition since Aug. 27 in the Egyptian Premier League.
Al Ahly has finished third in each of the past two Club World Cups but has never made the final.
Seattle was the first club from Major League Soccer to take part in the Club World Cup after winning the CONCACAF Champions League last May. The Sounders carried hopes of advancing through their first match and playing at least three matches at the event.
But while Seattle was excellent defensively, it lacked quality chances on attack. Seattle finished with just one shot on goal, a speculative attempt from defensive midfielder Josh Atencio early in the second half.
“I thought we were good. I thought we were evenly matched. A couple of chances. But the deflection on the goal, it’s unfortunate,” Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer said.
Seattle was playing its first competitive match in 3 ½ months while the rest of MLS was going through preseason preparations. The Sounders' previous match was last October and the team gathered for MLS preseason camp in early January.
“They put everything into the game. They put everything into preseason,” Schmetzer said.
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