Adelaide United downs Ahly 1-0

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YOKOHAMA: Forward Cristiano scored a superb goal in the first half to give Australia s Adelaide United a 1-0 win over Egypt s Ahly on Thursday and a fifth-place finish at the Club World Cup.

Cristiano, one of three Brazilians in the starting lineup, put Adelaide up 1-0 with a fine individual effort just seven minutes in.

After stripping an Ahly defender of the ball, Cristiano rifled a right-footed blast from the top of the area past a diving Ahly goalkeeper Amir Abdel-Hamid.

It was very important for me to score, said Cristiano. I played two games here and had several chances so it was nice to finally get a goal and help the team.

Mohamed Barakat had the best scoring chance for the African champions in the 83rd minute when he fired from 25-yards out only to have Adelaide goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic make a brilliant diving save.

Adelaide lost 1-0 to Japan s Gamba Osaka in the quarterfinals while Ahly lost 4-2 to Mexico s Pachuca.

It was a disappointing result for the six-time African champions, who came to the tournament with high expectations but finished in sixth place.

Throughout the match, we didn t have enough scoring opportunities, said Ahly coach Manuel Jose. We were nervous and couldn t keep up with Adelaide.

Adelaide were the first Australian team to compete in the annual showdown of continental club champions, and coach Aurelio Vidmar said Thursday s results should encourage any future Australian participants.

The first 30 minutes was some of best football we played in the tournament, said Vidmar. Cristiano scored a fantastic goal and our performance in this tournament should give other teams in Australia confidence.

Later on Thursday European champion Manchester United beat Gamba Osaka 5-3 to advance to the final of the Club World Cup.

United will play South American champions Liga de Quito in Sunday s final.

Wayne Rooney came off the bench to score twice in a span of four minutes. The English Premier Club s first-half goals came in identical fashion, with Ryan Giggs corners from the right headed home by Serbian defender Nemanja Vidic and European Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo.

Gamba showed creditable attacking intent in the second half rather than settle for an honorable draw, and was rewarded when Masato Yamazaki finished expertly in the 74th minute from a well-worked move down the right flank, sparking a flood of goals.

United restored its two-goal buffer straight from the kickoff as Rooney scored with his first touch of the ball in the 75th minute.

Darren Fletcher made it 4-1 in the 78th as the midfielder ghosted into the area to head home.

It was 5-1 just a minute later when Rooney slotted home, but Gamba refused to roll over and United keeper Edwin Van der Sar had to be sharp on a number of occasions to protect the advantage.

Gamba playmaker Yasuhito Endo calmly converted a penalty in the 85th minute after fullback Gary Neville was adjudged to have used his arm in blocking an attempted cross.

Hideo Hashimoto rifled home a powerful shot in the final minute to enable the Asian champions to leave with heads high despite the loss. -AP

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