Auckland City’s FIFA Club World Cup dream has ended with a 3-0 loss to top Egyptian club Al Ahly in Morocco.
After an opening 45 minutes in which City kept their opponents scoreless, the killer blow came two minutes into first half stoppage time when Hussein El Shahat struck from 22 metres.
That forced the Aucklanders to come out for the second half with a bolder approach and that presented the Egyptians with more goalscoring chances on the break.
Four minutes into the second spell, Mohamed Sherif hit the post, but was ruled offside anyway.
In the 55th minute, Al Ahly doubled their lead when Auckland City were dispossessed when trying to play out from the back and they countered, setting up Sherif to tuck it past ‘keeper Conor Tracey.
Two goals down, it was always going to be too big a task for Auckland but they persevered, making changing off the bench.
Tracey made a good save in the 85th minute but a minute later, Al Ahly booked their second round match against Seattle Sounders.
A neat interplay on the edge of the box saw Percy Tau clear and he steered the ball past Tracey for the third goal.
Six minutes into stoppage time, City defender Adam Mitchell was given a straight red for bringing down an attacker just outside the penalty area.
The incident became a world first, in that it went to the VAR officials whose decision-making was broadcast live to the crowd and television viewers.
READ MORE: New VAR process to be trialled for first time in Auckland City match in Morocco >>>>
Auckland City return to New Zealand with US$500,000 in prizemoney while Al Ahly go forward with US$1 million in the back pocket.
READ MORE: Our stories about Auckland City’s FIFA Club World Cup campaign >>>>
Game played on Thursday February 2, 2023
Al Ahly 3 (Hussein El Shahat 45+2′, Mohamed Sherif 56′, Percy Tau 86′)
Auckland City 0
1 M El-Shenawy (c), 30 M Hany, 4 M Metwaly, 24 M Abdelmonem Elsayed, 21 A Maâloul, 15 A Dieng, 14 H El Shahat (P Tau 75′), 8 H Fathi (M Kahraba 80′), 17 A Soleya (M Magdy 83′), 9 A Abdelkader Radwan (Mohamed Ahmed 75′), 10 M Sherif (M Attia 80′).
Subs not used: 2 K Abdelfattah, 5 R Rabia, 6 Y Ibrahim El Hanafi, 16 A Lotfi Mostafa, 33 H Alaa Abdallah, 34 M Fakhri Ramadan, 40 M El Bakri.
1 C Tracey, 12 R Murati, 3 A Mitchell, 5 N Boxall, 13 N Lobo (J Vale 71′), 21 M den Heijer, 10 D Manickum (J Lee 78′), 8 G Garriga (R Drake 78′), 7 C Howieson (c), 20 E Tade (W Gillion 55′), 11 R De Vries (A Kilkolly 71′).
Subs not used: 2 M Ilich, 4 C Gray, 23 M Ellis, 15 A Carey, 18 F Dockerty, 24 C Brown, 25 T Iwata.
Referee: Ma Ning, Assistants: Zhang Cheng, Zhou Fei, Fourth official: Istvan Kovacs, VAR: Juan Martinez Munuera,
Assistant VAR: Fu Ming.
Match statistics (Al Ahly / Auckland City)
Shots: 21 / 3
Shots on target: 7 / 1
Possession: 57% / 43%
Passes: 581 / 449
Pass accuracy: 83% / 79%
Fouls: 8 / 2
Yellow cards: 0 / 0
Red cards: 0 / 1
Offsides: 2 / 0
Corners: 10 / 6