A sumptuous strike from Romarinho saw United Arab Emirates title holders Al Jazira see off Auckland City with a narrow 1-0 victory to kick off the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017.
Auckland, making a record ninth appearance, started the encounter the brighter. Emiliano Tade, veteran of seven of those tournaments and equalling a club record tenth appearance, laid off to Ryan De Vries, who saw his effort deflected wide. The No10 turned provider as Callum McCourt had the clearest chance of the half, but his strike from 12 yards was too close to Ali Khaseif.
It was a miss which was duly punished. Romarinho, linking well with Ali Mabkhout, converted Al Jazira’s first shot of the night in lethal fashion. The 2012 Club World Cup winner (with Corinthians) fizzed a low drive from all of 30 yards into the bottom left corner to send the Abu Dhabi side ahead at the break.
The Navy Blues again began the stronger when they reemerged, with Cameron Howieson drawing a fine save from Khaseif, diving low to his left to tip it round the post. They remained the principle aggressors as the clock ticked down, with a golden chance falling to De Vries as he diverted a cross straight at Khaseif from five yards out.
The host side were able to withstand the remaining pressure, with victory seeing Al Jazira tee up a clash with fellow Asian side Urawa Red Diamonds on 9 December.