Auckland City have progressed to the quarterfinal of the FIFA Club World Cup after beating Moroccan champions Moghreb Tetouan 4-3 in a dramatic penalty shootout this morning in front of 35,247 fans.
It's just the second time that Auckland have advanced past the qualification play-off game at the tournament, and they pick up an extra $639,000 for reaching the next round.
Tim Payne, John Irving, Darren White and Sanni Issa all scored from the spot, while Mario Bilen has his shot saved, but Moghreb missed two penalties, which resulted in spectacular scenes as the amateur footballers from Auckland overcame their professional rivals.
They will now meet Algerian champions Es Setif in the quarterfinals on Sunday morning.
After 120 minutes of action, it was impossible to separate the two teams who were both defensively stubborn but found wanting in attack.
In the first 90 minutes there were only three shots on target, and one of them should have been the match winner for Auckland.
Striker Emiliano Tade will be a very relieved man tonight after he missed a sitter midway through the first half.
After some great link up play from Tim Payne and Ryan De Vries, the ball was squared for Tade just outside the six yard box, but the Argentinian striker scuffed his left footed shot six inches wide of the post.
But the highlights were few and far between. Both sides struggled to keep quality possession in the attacking third and misplaced passes were far too common.
Auckland coach Ramon Tribulietx has earned a reputation as a meticulous tactical planner and his defensive setup could not be faulted. The Auckland back four were very rarely tested and Moghreb only had one shot on goal from the first 90 minutes, which was easily dealt with by goalkeeper Tamati Williams.
But the bumpy pitch, long grass and a cautious attitude from both sides combined to create a lack of attacking flow, and long periods of unattractive football.
But Auckland won't care. They have been planning for this match for over seven months and the result is a welcome reward for a team of amateurs who can now proudly declare they are as good as professionals.
Auckland, who were appearing at their record breaking sixth Club World Cup, looked comfortable defensively on the world stage and showed their experience in the first half by constantly taking the pace out of the game by passing back to goalkeeper Williams when under pressure.
The tactic was not appreciated by the fans at sold-out Abdellah Stadium who begun jeering every time Williams touched the ball, but the visitors were not phased and grew in belief as the first half wore on.
Former All Whites defender Ivan Vicelich played in midfield, behind Tim Payne and Mario Bilen, and despite giving up a yard in pace, managed to hold their own against a scrappy Moroccan midfield.
Auckland received $639,000 for appearing at the tournament and have just doubled their money. If they can upset the Algerian champions on Sunday, they will add another $639,000 to their bulging bank account.