YOKOHAMA, Japan (AFP) - Manchester United overpowered Japan's Gamba Osaka 5-3 to book their place in the Club World Cup final on Thursday, with six goals in a breathless 17 minutes.
First-half headers from Nemanja Vidic and Cristiano Ronaldo, both from Ryan Giggs corners, set them on their way but it was the second period that set the game on fire.
Gamba pulled one back through Masato Yamazaki in the 74th minute before Wayne Rooney pounced a minute later soon after coming on as a substitute. Another substitute, Darren Fletcher, made it 4-1 on 78 minutes before Rooney bagged another seconds after the restart.
Adding to the drama, Gamba won a penalty when Gary Neville handled the ball and Yasuhito Endo converted the spot kick with five minutes left. Hideo Hashimoto then made it 5-3 in injury time.
With the win, United now only have Ecuador's Liga de Quito to overcome on Sunday to claim one of the few pieces of silverware to elude the club in its distinguished history.
"It was a terrific match, an amazing game, the people got their money's worth" said United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
"The football from both teams was very good. For me Edwin Van der Sar was our best player, his saves helped secure the victory for us.
"We are in the final and I think we deserve to be there."
For Gamba, it was one of the biggest games in their history and they could easily have been overawed, but they did themselves credit, although coach Akira Nishino wasn't entirely happy.
"It was a very tough game but overall I'm not satisfied because we didn't win," he said.
"At Gamba, we always want to win and we gave away easy goals. But we never gave up or lost the spirit to challenge them. We were not intimidated.
"We made them take us seriously and it's a pity we couldn't play on an equal level."
United began without Dimitar Berbatov who was sick with a virus while Rooney was on the bench after a knock in training, giving a rare start for Carlos Tevez.
It didn't take long for them to warm up with Ronaldo, again at the centre of reports that he is headed for Real Madrid at the end of the season, unleashing a left foot drive that Yosuke Fujigaya did well to gather.
With 68,000 fans packed into the Yokohama International Stadium, the atmosphere was electric with as many cheering for United as the local hopes.
It was fast and furious and United had a let off in the 13th minute when danger man Endo floated a beautifully paced ball over the defence which Ryuji Bando controlled brilliantly.
He let rip with his left foot but Van der Sar was off his line in a flash to save a certain goal with his legs.
At the other end, Ronaldo, in lime green boots, collected the ball on the right, twisted and turned his way past two defenders only to blast his shot just past the left-hand post.
The Portuguese star was turning on the style, roaming from left to right, and he broke into the box in the 27th minute before seeing his powerful drive rebound off Gamba captain Satoshi Yamaguchi.
They got the breakthrough from the resulting corner, with Vidic rising above Yamaguchi to head home Giggs' cross.
The goal dented Gamba's confidence and they struggled to get back in the game, with a hammer blow coming right on half time when Ronaldo climbed to meet another Giggs corner and make it 2-0.
United were enjoying themselves and the chances came thick and fast in the second half, culminating in the astonishing 17-minute rollercoaster that turned the game into a classic.
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