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Wednesday, 12 January, 2000, 01:04 GMT
Vasco secure final spot

Jose Higareda of Necaxa tracks Ramon's break-away

Necaxa 1-2 Vasco de Gama

Vasco de Gama joined fellow Brazilians Corinthians in the final of the World Club Championships, after securing victory in their last group game in Rio.

World Club Championship
Necaxa's narrow defeat means the unfancied Mexican outfit take on Real Madrid in the third-place play-off, after beating Manchester United into second spot in Group B on goal difference.

World Cup legend Romario claimed a vintage winning goal in the second half to secure Vasco's passage to Friday's final at the Maracana.

The host club were good value for their win, in what proved the latest in a string of entertaining matches - even if the contest lacked some of the bizarre theatre of earlier games in the competition.

Shock start

Necaxa took a surprise lead after just five minutes, courtesy of play-maker Alejandro Aguinaga.

Romario's goal took Vasco through to the final
Centre-forward Augustin Delgado failed to control a through-ball in the box, but with the Vasco defence absent without leave, Aguinaga was first to react and side-footed the ball under keeper Helton.

But Vasco recovered from the early set-back and eight minutes later they were level.

This time it was Necaxa's turn for some kamikaze defending.

Mexican keeper Hugo Pineda rushed off his line at a corner, missed the ball completely and unmarked substitute Odvan - who had just come on for the injured Junior Baiano - simply headed it into an unguarded net.

Match facts
5: Aguinaga's goal has Necaxa dreaming of the final
13: An Odvan header settles Vaso nerves
69: Romario settles the issue with the winner
Romario, without his normal strike partner Edmundo, who was rested on the bench, then had two opportunities to put Vasco ahead - but he ballooned a great chance over the bar and then missed with a straightforward header.

With Vasco pushing on, Pineda made some amends for the blunder at the goal with a full-stretch save to keep out Ramon's rocketed free-kick.

But Necaxa had their chances too, and Jose Milan flicked the ball over the bar after Aguinaga had sent him through with just the keeper to beat.

Helton on song

Necaxa dominated the early stages of the second half and twice came close to regaining the lead - but the impressive Helton produced athletic saves to keep out Delgado's shot and Aguinaga's free-kick.

They proved crucial moments in the match, as Vasco weathered the Mexican storm and then took control of proceedings.

Romario may have struggled to find his range in front of goal in the first half, but he showed why he is rated as one of the finest strikers of the 1990s with the winning strike in the 69th minute.

The 1994 World Cup-winner picked up the ball outside the Necaxa area, produced a trademark turn of pace to beat his marker and then sent a low, angled shot past Pineda for a fine goal.

With Necaxa needing two goals to snatch a place in the final, there was no way back - although Sergio Vazquez threatened to cause an upset when he crashed a free-kick against the bar with just three minutes on the clock.


Necaxa: Pineda, Cabrera, Almaguer, Aguinaga, Perez, Delgado, Lopez, Vigna, Milian, Montecinos, Higareda.
Subs: Alvarez, Guadarrama, Ambriz, Scotti, Acosta, Terres, Ochoa, Velazquez, Becerril, Hernandez, Oliva, Vazquez.

Vasco de Gama: Helton, Galvao, Amaral, Felipe, Donizete, Juninho, Ramon, Romario, Gilberto, Miranda, Junior Baiano.
Subs: Germano, Marcio, Jorginho, Odvan, Edmundo, Torres, Pedrinho, Valber, Viola, Oliveira, Nasa, Alex.

Referee: Julian Oscar Ruiz Acosta (Colombia)

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See also:
11 Jan 00 |  World Club Championship
Corinthians creep into final
11 Jan 00 |  World Club Championship
Fortune fails to save Man Utd
20 Dec 99 |  World Club Championship
Necaxa: Kings of a small hill
10 Jan 00 |  World Club Championship
Surreal win for eight-man Real
10 Jan 00 |  Football
Necaxa aim to upset odds
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Vasco da Gama: Football's democrats
05 Jan 00 |  World Club Championship
World Club Championship results
09 Jan 00 |  World Club Championship
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