ABU DHABI (AFP) - European champions Inter Milan swept into the final of the Club World Cup with a convincing 3-0 semi-final defeat of Asian counterparts Seongnam Ilhwa here on Wednesday.
Argentine striker Diego Milito made one goal and scored another on his return from a five-week absence, as Rafael Benitez's under-performing side set up a meeting with surprise package Tout Puissant Mazembe in Saturday's final.
Inter, who last season won an unprecedented treble of Italian league, cup and Champions League titles, were 10 points behind Serie A leaders AC Milan when they left for Abu Dhabi, but they will now be expected to end the year with another piece of major silverware.
"It was a very hard win and it was difficult to control the game as Seongnam players were running a lot and they knew exactly what to do," said Benitez.
"It wasn't easy to start as well as we did as we lost (Wesley) Sneijder so quickly.
"The second goal made the difference for us and then towards the end we controlled the game."
He added: "I'm happy with my players as they did what we wanted of them. Seongnam are well organised and they have a lot of qualities but they had some difficulties tonight."
Seongnam Ilhwa coach Shin Tae Yong said: "I would like to congratulate Inter as they played really well today. The score might be 3-0 but our players gave their best until the end of the game.
"Our team did a lot of effective work but in the first half we conceded two goals and they had a slight advantage.
"If we compare the two teams, Inter's players were physically stronger.
"Also, their individual skills were better than us and that was one of the reasons why we lost tonight. Inter were good and they scored three goals but we were not bad ourselves and gave a good performance tonight."
Inter welcomed Julio Cesar, Cristian Chivu and Milito back from injury, but Sneijder had to go off after appearing to injure his left hamstring inside the first 30 seconds.
Sneijder had barely disappeared down the tunnel when veteran Serbian midfielder Dejan Stankovic put Inter ahead.
After Milito was crowded out on the edge of the Seongnam box, Stankovic displayed impressive balance and a cool head to steady himself and then roll the ball into the bottom-right corner with his left foot.
Seongnam were unable to react to the setback and in the 32nd minute Inter doubled their lead in stylish fashion.
Captain Javier Zanetti flicked the ball to Milito and drove into the box before receiving Milito's expertly directed back-heel and guiding the ball beyond Seongnam goalkeeper Jung Sung-Ryong.
Julio Cesar had to be alert to save a Dzenan Radoncic header as Seongnam sought a route back into the game, but the Brazilian goalkeeper was then beaten by a header from Chu Byung-Kuk as he advanced to claim a free-kick, only for the ball to go wide of the post.
Jo Jae-Chol gave Inter a mild scare with a snapshot from distance that brushed the roof of the net, but the Italian champions were largely able to keep their opponents at arm's length.
Eto'o was denied by Jung with 17 minutes remaining, but Milito was on hand to stab the rebound into the net and seal Inter's place in the final.
Seongnam had a superb opportunity to respond shortly afterwards, but when Julio Cesar parried Asian player of the year Sasa Ognenovski's free-kick straight to Radoncic, the Montenegrin side-footed the ball wide from close range.
Earlier, Mexican side Pachuca hit back from 2-0 down to defeat local representatives Al-Wahda on penalties in the fifth place play-off.
Pachuca trailed by two goals with less than 10 minutes to play but Dario Cvitanich claimed a late brace to tie the scores and after a goalless period of extra time, the Mexicans prevailed 4-2 on penalties.
|United need Griezmann - Silvestre backs proven goalscorer to emulate Rooney|
|Roma can achieve great things - Serie A club can join Europe´s elite, claims Monchi|
|Mourinho: Manchester derby not about me and Guardiola|
|Cavani extends PSG contract until 2020|
|Amsterdam ArenA to be renamed after Johan Cruyff|
|Surgery all that matters for Ibrahimovic - Mourinho realistic on United star´s future|
|Ibrahimovic should join me in MLS - Schweinsteiger|
|I cannot guarantee anything - Pochettino puts Alli future aside for Spurs title charge|
|Emery expecting full-strength Monaco for semi-final|
|Schweinsteiger has no regrets over Manchester United move|
|Sanchez a slow starter - Wenger|
|Zidane would not change Clasico approach|
|Sahin signs Dortmund contract extension|
|Luis Enrique wishes Barcelona had Madrid´s extra games|
|Ancelotti unhappy with Ribery performances|
|Rooney´s Manchester United future ´doesn´t look good´|
|Bale a doubt for Champions League semis with calf injury|
|Luis Enrique reiterates wish for Messi to end career at Barcelona|
|Tuchel relies on Reus to lead Dortmund past Bayern|
|Hazard not right for Chelsea captaincy|
|Pogba might regret leaving Juventus - Barzagli|
|Wenger in jovial mood over Arsenal future|
|Wenger dismisses Giroud to Marseille talk|
|Xavi expects Guardiola to make Alli move|
|Sanchez would be a good signing for Bayern – Matthaus|
|Hazard in no rush to sign Chelsea renewal amid ongoing Real Madrid links|
|Fernandez rules out Neymar exit, plays down Dybala talk|
|Herrera talks up Manchester derby importance|
|Maradona doubts Argentina World Cup qualification without Messi|
|Messi, Iniesta to renew deals soon – Fernandez|
|Benitez unsure over Newcastle future after promotion|
|Premier League win with Chelsea would be Conte´s greatest moment|
|Toure wants derby day tonic for faltering Manchester City|
|Cech hoping for FA Cup joy against old friends when Arsenal face Chelsea|
|Pescara 1 Roma 4: Salah brace condemns Serie A basement boys|
|Newcastle United 4 Preston North End 1: Perez at the double as Benitez´s men seal Premier League ret|
|Simeone: Atletico had a rough patch in 2016|
|Reo-Coker, Richardson to be offered deals for next season at cash-strapped Granada|
|Osasuna forced to design new kit for Barcelona clash|
|Blind happy to play wherever Mourinho needs him|
|AFC Champions League Review: Al Ain beat Zob Ahan, Al Hilal progress|
|Roma seal deal for Sevilla sporting director Monchi|
|Aguero and Silva train with Manchester City after Wembley injuries|
|Wijnaldum urges Liverpool to keep fighting|
|Conte: FA Cup win over Tottenham will not benefit Chelsea in title race|
|Messi feels Clasico win an important step towards LaLiga glory|
|Inter give Pioli vote of confidence|
|Messi is not selfish – Conte shoots down Fabregas over Hazard advice|
|Allegri: Juventus not perfect yet|
|Zidane has no regrets over playing Bale in Clasico|
|Ibrahimovic is privileged physically - Herrera|
|Lahm desperate for DFB-Pokal glory before retirement|
|Bojan revels in landmark strike against Bayern|
|Schalke laugh off Liverpool interest in Kolasinac, Meyer and Goretzka|
|Lyon ready to ´go crazy´ to keep Lacazette – Aulas|
|Mata could return for Manchester United season finale|
|We´ve let him down – Ramsey wants FA Cup win to repay Wenger|
|Five finals between Monaco and Ligue 1 glory – Falcao|
|Martial ´a new player´ as Mourinho hails Burnley performance|
|Play Man United without a referee? I would prefer that – Toure fury with Wembley officials|
|Czech Republic international Rajtoral dead at 31|
|#Messi500 breakdown: How Clasico winner took Messi to new heights|
|Marcelo: Madrid not inferior to Barca after Clasico loss|
|MLS Review: Larin brace sinks NYC, Dempsey stars for Sounders|
|Clasico hero Messi a blessing for Barcelona, says Iniesta|
|The best player in history – Suarez congratulates Messi|
|Carvajal: Ramos red card defined Clasico and Madrid loss to Barca|
|Messi cannot surprise anyone – Rakitic lauds Barcelona hero|
|Sergio Ramos feels red card was excessive: I did not try to hurt Messi|
|I don´t understand your question - Wenger unsure of impact from semi-final win|
|Giving up is not an option - Injured United star Ibrahimovic vows to return|
|Pique: Ramos will realise he deserves his red once he gets home|
|Zidane: Real Madrid should have been smarter with 10 men|
|Lyon 1 Monaco 2: Falcao and Mbappe make the difference|
|Messi is decisive even when he´s eating dinner at home - Luis Enrique hails Barca star after Clasico|
|Messi dependence returns but Barcelona blow LaLiga title race wide open again|
|Kante named PFA Player of the Year, Alli retains Young Player of the Year award|
|Luis Enrique matches Guardiola feat with victory in El Clasico|
|Real Madrid 2 Barcelona 3: Messi settles thrilling Clasico as Barca go top of LaLiga|
|Juventus 4 Genoa 0: Much-changed champions make light work of strugglers|
|Messi reaches 500 goals for Barcelona with dramatic Clasico winner|
|Mourinho unsure of Pogba fitness for Manchester derby|
|Messi sets new record after ending his worst Clasico goal drought|
|Bale limps out of El Clasico|
|Guardiola: Manchester City struggled with Arsenal´s long balls|
|Galatasaray 0 Fenerbahce 1: Late Souza header seals Istanbul derby glory|
|I had to say a few words to the boys - Klopp|
|Montella expects battle for Europe to go to final game after Empoli loss|
|Bale shakes off injury to start Clasico, Alcacer replaces Neymar|
|Schalke 1 RB Leipzig 1: Huntelaar frustrates title contenders|
|Wenger: Sanchez is an animal and he will be at Arsenal next season|
|Arsenal have answered the critics, says victorious Wenger|
|Liverpool 1 Crystal Palace 2: Eagles soaring to safety as Benteke stuns Klopp|
|Guardiola humbled by Sanchez but should resist tiresome transfer chase|
|PSV 1 Ajax 0: Locadia all but ends visitor´s title hopes|
|Arsenal 2 Manchester City 1 (aet): Sanchez winner sends Wenger´s men into FA Cup final|
|Dyche unhappy with United goals|
|Mourinho confirms Ibrahimovic, Rojo face surgery on knee injuries|
|Rooney feeling strong after comeback goal|
|Toulouse 1 Nice 1: Favre´s men suffer hefty blow to title challenge|
|Lazio 6 Palermo 2: Keita nets five-minute hat-trick|
|Burnley 0 Manchester United 2: Rooney makes goalscoring return in Ibrahimovic´s absence|
|AC Milan 1 Empoli 2: Suso pays the penalty as Rossoneri´s European bid takes a hit|
|Everything has gone wrong - Icardi bemused by Inter woes|
|Aston Villa 1 Birmingham City 0: Agbonlahor condemns Redknapp to derby debut defeat|
|Celtic 2 Rangers 0: McGregor, Sinclair down Old Firm rivals to keep Bhoys´ treble hopes alive|
|Sassuolo 2 Napoli 2: Milik rescues Sarri´s side after Hamsik howler|
|Rooney returns for United to replace injured Ibrahimovic|
|Mbappe, Silva and Lemar to stay at Monaco - Vasilyev|
|Melbourne City 0 Perth Glory 2: Castro inspires Elimination Finals revenge mission|
|Griezmann considering Manchester United and Real Madrid offers|
|Lingard backs Rashford to fill Man Utd´s Ibrahimovic void|
|Anelka re-opens Domenech feud over Mbappe comments|
|Griezmann walks out on interview after questions over Atleti future|
|Neymar to miss El Clasico after Barcelona lose patience with TAD appeal|
|Man Utd is not a step up for Lukaku - Koeman aims barbs at Red Devils|
|Hazard understands semi-final benching|
|Red cards, penalties and controversy - Is Pique right to fear Madrid bias in El Clasico?|
|Arsenal v Manchester City: Aguero reasserting himself after Guardiola transformation|
|MLS Review: Dallas stay unbeaten, Union denied first win|
|Wenger compares Ramsey to Lampard|
|Sane: Guardiola told me to play like Messi and Neymar|
|Sanchez almost at same level as Messi – Guardiola lauds Arsenal star|
|Simeone hails clinical Atletico after seeing off Espanyol|
|Pochettino looks to bright future for Tottenham despite Chelsea woe|
|We threw away our credibility - Pioli slams Inter after hapless second-half showing|
|Bomb scare has helped pull Borussia Dortmund´s squad together, claims Tuchel|
|Chelsea´s unsung heroes win Conte praise after Wembley win|