MARRAKECH, December 18- Libertadores Cup winners San Lorenzo gave their number one fan Pope Francis something to celebrate on his 78th birthday by booking their place in the final of the World Club Cup on Wednesday.
The Argentine side needed extra time to see off the hearty challenge of the competition’s surprise package Auckland City of New Zealand 2-1 in Marrakech, and now face star-studded European champions Real Madrid in Saturday’s final.
Auckland, the Oceania club champions, had already overcome local heroes Moghreb Tetouan and ES Setif of Algeria, but now have to content themselves with a play-off for third place against the other beaten semi-finalists, Cruz Azul of Mexico.
San Lorenzo took the lead in stoppage time at the end of the first half through Pablo Barrientos only for Angel Berlanga to level for Auckland in the 67th minute.
But three minutes into the extra period Mauro Matos popped up to book the Argentines’ place in the final.
Real had already made sure of their place in the final, cruising to a 4-0 win over Cruz Azul on Tuesday with goals from Sergio Ramos, Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Isco.
Earlier, Asian champions Western Sydney Wanderers bowed out with a defeat on penalties to ES Setif in a play-off for fifth place.
The match ended 2-2 after 90 minutes before the Algerians, champions of Africa, triumphed 5-4 in the shoot-out.
Dutch midfielder Romeo Castelen gave the Australians an early lead and a Daniel Mullen own-goal levelled the scores early in the second half.
Setif looked on course to win it when Abdelmalik Ziaya made it 2-1, but a Vitor Saba free-kick a minute from the end brought Wanderers level again and took the match to penalties, in which Toufik Zerara scored the winning kick in sudden death after the Nigerian Seyi Adeleke had skied his effort.