Sunday, April 20, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
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Bayern beat Raja to win Club World Cup, 5th trophy

MARRAKECH, Morocco — Bayern Munich capped the greatest year in club history by beating Raja Casablanca 2-0 to win its third Club World Cup on Saturday.

The European champions added a record fifth title to their trophy cabinet at the tournament of continental champions to go with the Champions League, Bundesliga, German Cup, and European Super Cup triumphs in 2013.

Dante scored early to deflate the Moroccan hosts at Marrakech Stadium, and Thiago Alcantara put the Bavarian side in command with his 22nd-minute goal.

Unheralded Raja, which beat Copa Libertadores champion Atletico Mineiro in the semifinals, used its speed on the break and came close to scoring but ultimately couldn’t keep up with the German champions.

“I think we knew how to approach each game and that was key,” said coach Pep Guardiola, who won the event for the third time, including twice before with Barcelona. “The first 25 minutes we played very well. After that we forgot to attack.”

Bayern won the first of two Intercontinental Cups — the forerunner to this event — exactly 37 years ago on Saturday.

With King Mohammed VI of Morocco amid the majority of 37,747 spectators cheering for Raja, the Moroccanclub just couldn’t muster enough to break through against Bayern’s deep squad of internationals.

Guardiola made three changes to the team that dismissed Guangzhou Evergrande of China 3-0 in the semifinals, with Dante replacing slow-footed central defender Daniel van Buyten to pace Raja’s speedy forwards, who were especially dangerous on the counter.

Dante made an immediate impact as the Brazil international gathered teammate Jerome Boateng’s headed corner inside the box to blast it past helpless goalkeeper Khalid Askri seven minutes after the start.

Raja’s defense erred by playing Dante onside to score, and it was again scrambling in the 22nd as David Alaba laid a pass onto Thiago’s run into the area to sidefoot a powerful shot beyond Askri.

Raja coach Faouzi Benzarti bemoaned the team’s having to play four games to Bayern’s two, leaving them fatigued, and nerves also played a factor with the King in attendance.

“It is the greatest team in the world with the greatest coach. We believed in our means but we were not lucky today,” said Benzarti, who guided the club in its second appearance of the competition and first since 2000. “We were not aggressive enough. And we were playing giants.”

With the crowd — and a nation, really — behind them, the hosts did not wilt and came close to breaking through.

Forward Mouhssine Iajour, who was instrumental in the upset of Atletico, had several opportunities as Raja found space on the break, and Abdellah Hafidi got an unlucky bounce in the 38th as he nearly caught goalkeeper Manuel Neuer out after a poor clearance.

As Bayern slacked, Raja pressed with Neuer making several saves against a team without a single Morocco international before Mohsine Moutaouli sent his shot high over the empty goal near the close.

Guardiola, who replaced Jupp Heynckes in the summer following the first three title wins, improved his overall record to 6-1 in one-game finals while earning his 16th trophy since beginning his coaching career in 2008.

“This title belongs to Jupp. I just tried to keep alive everything he did,” Guardiola said. “You can’t compare these triumphs, they’re all different.”

Earlier, 10-man Atletico beat Asian champion Guangzhou 3-2 to finish third. Luan scored a stoppage time winner following Ronaldinho’s 88th-minute red card.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

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