Manchester City set aside struggles at home to ease past Urawa Red Diamonds 3-0 in the Club World Cup semi-finals on Tuesday and is one game away from a fifth title in 2023.

Manchester City’s players celebrate(AFP)

The champion of Europe has never lost to the champion of Asia at a Club World Cup and it never looked likely on a balmy evening in the Red Sea port city Jeddah.

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After it took Man City until first-half stoppage time to score from an own goal by defender Marius Hoibraten, Mateo Kovačić and Bernardo Silva struck with shots in a seven-minute spell early in the second half against the Japanese team.

Man City now will be favored to beat Fluminense of Brazil in the final on Friday.

“It’s the only title that the club don’t have,” City manager Pep Guardiola said. ”The players know how important this game is for all of us at the club.”

Guardiola’s team keeps finding respite in international games during an untypical run in the Premier League where the defending champion has won just one of its last six games while leaking late goals.

A winning Club World Cup debut followed City closing out a perfect six-win streak in its Champions League group this month. City also added a UEFA Super Cup title in August to its storied trophy treble last season of Champions League, Premier League and English FA Cup.

City needed some help to score first Friday when Hoibraten diverted goalward a pass across the goalmouth by Matheus Nunes that was unlikely to find another of the six midfield players in the starting lineup.

With Erling Haaland still ruled out by a foot injury, Guardiola also opted to leave Argentina forward Julián Álvarez on the bench.

The biggest cheers during a lackluster first half came when the faces of City stars Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne sitting in the main stand were broadcast on the screens placed high at each end of the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium. Neither will play in the final.

De Bruyne was not risked despite taking part in a light training session Monday more than four months after having surgery on a hamstring injury sustained early in City’s Premier League season opener.

Otherwise the noise from a 40,127 crowd inside a far-from-full stadium was raised by about 400 red-and-black clad Urawa fans packed behind one goal.

The clapping, singing, jumping group kept time to relentless drumming by one in their ranks and continued after the goals arrived either side of halftime.

In the 52nd, deep-lying midfielder Kovačić exploited the space left vacant where Haaland would be to surge forward and shoot after collecting Kyle Walker’s long pass.

It was shooting practice for City seven minutes later when Bernardo Silva scored with the help of a slight deflection after goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa pushed away Nunes’ first effort.

City cruised through the last half-hour and Guardiola detailed an approach in Jeddah for his squad that is on a constant two-games-per-week program this season.

“The plan is to sleep and to sleep and to sleep,” the coach said, praising Walker as an ”incredible captain” who organizes social time for teammates.

A game between the fourth-place team in England and the fourth-place finisher in the Japanese league that ended this month exposed a much wider gulf.

Urawa coach Maciej Skorża acknowledged his players could not handle the Premier League champion’s “huge offensive power. They know what the gap is.”

On Friday, another Europe vs South America final — the 13th in 19 editions — will decide the last Club World Cup title in the current format that began in 2005.

Urawa also will be in the 32-team lineup when FIFA relaunches the competition in June 2025 in the United States when Europe will have 12 entries and Asia just four.

“I think this experience will be very important for our club,” said Skorża, who will leave Urawa after the season.

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