Japan's Reysol win Club World Cup opener
TOYOTA, Japan (Reuters) -- Japanese champions Kashiwa Reysol eased past New Zealand amateurs Auckland City 2-0 in a pedestrian opening match of the Club World Cup on Thursday.
The curtain-raiser for a tournament graced by Barcelona's involvement failed to set pulses racing but briefly burst into life late in the first half at Toyota Stadium.
Junya Tanaka smashed home a left-foot shot from an acute angle in the 37th minute that whistled past Auckland goalkeeper Jacob Spoonley at his near post.
Three minutes later Masato Kudo doubled Reysol's lead, poking home the loose ball after Hiroki Sakai's header had come back off the upright, triggering panic in Auckland's defence.
Reysol now face Mexico's Monterrey at the weekend for the right to play South American champions Santos of Brazil in the semi-finals.
The newly crowned J-League champions never seriously threatened to add to their lead in the second half against an Auckland side lacking any sort of thrust in attack.
Kashiwa goalkeeper Takanori Sugeno produced a super save to claw away a Dave Mulligan free kick as the New Zealanders made a rare foray out of their own half late in the game.
A thick fog which made visibility a problem came as a blessing, Monterrey players watching on from the stands looking bored and spending much of their time phone texting.
Only 18,000 fans braved the cold to watch the game in central Japan, although both semi-finals and the final -- to be played in Yokohama -- are sold out.
European champions Barcelona join the seven-team competition at the semi-final stage next week. The final will be played on Dec. 18.