Alario header sends River Plate into final of Club World Cup

OSAKA: South American champion River Plate booked its place in the Club World Cup final, beating Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1-0 on Wednesday.

The Argentine giant was matched for large spells by the J-League champion, but Lucas Alario scored in the second half with a header after Sanfrecce goalkeeper Takuto Hayashi could only half-punch a Carlos Sanchez free kick away.

Yusuke Minagawa had the best chances for Sanfrecce in the first half, but failed to convert a trio of opportunities.

River faces the winner of Thursday's semifinal between Barcelona and Guangzhou Evergrande on Sunday while Sanfrecce takes on the loser of that game in the third-place playoff the same day.

Dario Benedetto and Martin Zuniga scored first-half goals as Mexico's Club America beat TP Mazembe 2-1 to finish in fifth place.

Benedetto put the CONCACAF champion ahead in the 19th minute and Zuniga widened the lead 10 minutes later when he tapped in a loose ball from close range.

Rainford Kalaba pulled one back for the African champion with two minutes remaining in the first half.