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December 14, 2006

Barcelona reach the World Cup final after crushing America

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Barcelona qualified for the Club World Cup final with a classic 4-0 demolition of Mexico's America on Thursday. Ronaldinho Gaucho had a wonderful night and leaded his team to victory.

Rijkaard's team will face Brazil's Internacional in Sunday's final after cruising to a comfortable victory in front of 62,000 in rainswept Yokohama.

"I think that the players were absolutely shattered after the match," Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard told reporters. "They're hurting still from the jetlag. They will play better in the final."

Iceland striekr Eidur Gudjohnsen gave Barcelona the lead in the 11th minute following a superb three-man move ignited by a sumptuous Ronaldinho Gaucho back-heel.

Andres Iniesta cleverly released Gudjohnsen and the forward swept a crisp right-foot shot into the far corner past goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.

Mexican defender Rafael Marquez doubled Barca's lead on the half hour, outmuscling his marker to head in Deco's inswinging corner from the left.

What's more, Ronaldinho added a third in the 65th minute, pouncing on Ludovic Giuly's blocked shot to hook the ball past Ochoa from 12 metres.

The playmaker then unselfishly set up Deco, who drilled a fierce right-foot shot into the top corner from 25 metres five minutes from time to underline Barcelona's dominance.

The Spaniard side are hot favourites to go one better than Johan Cruyff's flamboyant side of the early 1990s by returning to Spain with an historic first world title.

"It was an important game for us," said Rijkaard. "There's still a bigger prize waiting for us on Sunday so hopefully this win will give the team a jump-start."

It's important to mention that South American champions Inter scraped past Egypt's Al Ahli 2-1 in Wednesday's first semi-final. Brazil's Sao Paulo edged out Liverpool 1-0 in last year's final.