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CWC: Ronaldinho, Mineiro stunned by Raja

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Local club Raja Casablanca Athletic advanced to the FIFA Clubs World Cup final after delivering a stunning blow to South American champion Atletico Mineiro of Brazil at the Stade de Marrakech in the semifinal match of the competition. Casablanca defeated the Brazilian side 3-1 and are the first host nation to reach a final since the tournament began in 2000.

Former FC Barcelona and AC Milan superstar Ronaldinho was on the pitch with the South American squad. He was the most visible player of the competition and many players were ready to meet and greet the two time FIFA World Player of the Year.

Raja has been the big surprise of the tournament having won three games so far. They dispatched Oceania representative Auckland City FC of New Zealand in their first match, then delivered a stunning blow to North American champion CF Monterrey of Mexico. Now the local squad has defeated this year’s Copa Libertadores champion and will play against UEFA champion Bayern Munich of Germany.

The game was surprising to the Brazilians who could not hit their mark in the first 45 minutes. Mineiro had several shots on goal but could not break the net. The game went to the break with a scoreless draw. That was not expected from Ronaldinho’s team.

Mouhssine Iajour scored the game’s first goal in the 51st minute of play. An error by the Brazilian defense sent two players to cover the Moroccan attacker. He passed to Iajour who was unmarked in front of goalkeeper Victor. Iajour fired to the keeper’s right to give the local squad the 1-0 lead.

The Brazilians continued their attack and in the 63rd minute earned a free kick just outside the penalty box. Ronaldinho took the shot and fired over the defensive wall to the keeper’s top left corner. Khalid Askri stood motionless as the ball flew past him into his net.

That would not be the end, the teams attacked from both ends. But there was no breakthrough. Until the Brazilian defense would commit a penalty. Mouhssine Moutouali converted from the penalty spot to give the local squad the 2-1 in the 84th minute.

Inspired with the lead the local squad continued to take the game to the South American champions. A combination from Raja moved past the defense. Moutouali chipped the ball over the keeper but hit the crossbar. Vianney Mabide recovered the rebound and simply tapped it into the open net for the final 3-1.

Raja has surprised tournament participants as most believed they would fall to Mexico’s Monterrey and expected an Atletico Mineiro-Bayern Munich final. At the end of the game the Raja players surprised Ronaldinho asking to exchange jerseys. The Brazilian was left topless on the pitch and even gave out his shoes.

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