TOKYO – Asian club champions Al-Sadd struck a new low on behalf of football in the Qatari homeland of the 2022 World Cup hosts when they African champions Esperance Sportive de Tunis to reach the semi-finals of the FIFA Club World Cup.

The quarter-final was staged in the Toyota Stadium near Nagoya City with the Qatari club using highly effectively the counter-punching tactics ordered by Uruguayan coach Jorge Fossati.

Keeper Mohamed Saqr was kept busy in the opening stages during which Esperance’s Yannick Ndjeng hit a post. However Al-Sadd then took the lead against the run of play when Khalfan Al Khalfan punished a mistake by keeper Moez Ben Cherifa after 33 minutes. Abdulla Koni scored Al-Sadd’s second from close range four minutes into the second half before the Tunisians pulled one back through Oussama Darragi on the hour.

Esperance had two late ‘goals’ by Ndjeng and Khaled Ayari ruled out for offside.

Al-Sadd now face the all-conquering European and Spanish champions Barcelona while Esperance face a fifth-place play-off against

A further surprise was sprung in another quarter-final when Japanese champions Kashiwa Reysol upset Mexico’s Monterrey 4-3 in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 extra-time draw. Kawisa face Brazil’s South American champions Santos in their semi-final.

Brazilian striker Leandro Domingues, the J.League’s player of the year, gave Reysol the lead after 53 minutes with Monterrey levelling five minutes later through Chile striker Humberto Suazo. In the shootout Ryohei Hayashi struck the winning spotkick for the Japanese.

The final takes place in Yokohama on December 18 with observers predicting Barcelona v Santos.