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Football | International

Tite © Action Images

Corinthians feel the heat in Tokyo



Corinthians coach Tite admitted his side struggled under the weight of expectation after labouring to a 1-0 semifinal victory over Al Ahly in a "life or death" Club World Cup semifinal.

A solitary goal from centre-forward Paolo Guerrero was enough for the Copa Libertadores winners to overcome the Egyptian outfit and reach Sunday's final, likely to be a heavyweight clash against European champions Chelsea.

"The players felt a significant weight of responsibility," said Tite, seeking to end European dominance of the Japan showpiece.

"The history of Club World Cup games show there is a lot of psychological pressure (on the favourites)," he added.

Sao Paolo side Corinthians dominated possession in the first half on Wednesday but created few goal-scoring opportunities, Guerrero heading in the only clear-cut chance on the half-hour mark.

It was a different story after the break as the dominant African champions surged forward in a desperate search for an equaliser but Corinthians held on for a narrow win.

"We knew we had to get a second goal but there was an emotional factor which existed," Tite explained of his team's poor second-half showing in front of more than 20 000 Corinthians fans.

"It was a life or death match – a single game that defined your future in the tournament. We weren't able to get the second goal so that encouraged Al Ahly," he said.

Chelsea are favourites to win the competition but the English Premier League club must first defeat Mexican side Monterrey in Thursday's semifinal.

Striker Emerson said Corinthians would be doing everything in their power to take the intercontinental championship back to Brazil.

"The dream of everyone is to return home with the title," he said.

"We are happy to reach the final but that is not just our goal. We did not come to be second."

The city of Yokohama is staging Sunday's final.

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