Surprise package of the 2013 Fifa Club World Cup Raja Casablanca have qualified for the final of the tournament, becoming the second African side to achieve that feat after TP Mazembe in 2010.
The host team defeated Copa Libertadores winners Clube Atletico Mineiro 3-1 at the Marrakech Stadium on Wednesday, despite the threat of from former Barcelona star Ronaldinho, who scored his side’s only goal.
Raja got underway with much confidence, launching much of the early onslaughts with the best chance emerging in the 13th minute when Chemseddine Chtibi’s header from Issam Erraki’s corner kick narrowly missed the target.
Thereafter, the Brazilian side took matters into their hands, with Ronaldinho delivering a free-kick and Leonardo Silva heading breathtakingly just over the crossbar.
Atletico multiplied their efforts, with Fernandinho chipping to Lucas who lunged into the Raja box and crossed to Brazil international Jo whose close range, left-footed effort was too soft for the Moroccan goalkeeper.
By the 33rd minute, Atletico were still on the ascendancy and could have broken through when a cross destined for Ronaldinho in the Raja box fell at the feet of Fernandinho, but his finish was misdirected.
The home team found their rhythm near the end of first half, and then began the second in bright fashion, staging a couple of counterattacks and fending off Atletico’s incursions.
By the 51st minute, Mouhssine Iajour opened the scoring to send the home crowd delirious but Ronaldinho answered for his side eight minutes later with a dexterous free-kick to inspire the South Americans.
Raja goalkeeper Khalid Askri parried a sharp header from Jo, foiling a chance to put Atleitco ahead by the 74th minute.
Ten minutes later, Raja was awarded a penalty after Lajour was tripped inside the box by Atletico defender Rever, with captain Mouhcine Moutouali coverting to give the home side a 2-1 lead.
Atletico poured forth in a bid to claim an equaliser with time running out and leaving behind potholes in the process. Raja capitalised to hit home a third goal, when Vivien Madibe tapped home a rebound from a strike delivered by Victor.
Raja will now meet top favoutites Bayern Munich in the final, set for Marrakech on Saturday.