Goals from Yasushi Endo and Mu Kanazaki helped Kashima Antlers past Mamelodi Sundowns in Sunday's Club World Cup meeting in Osaka, setting up a semi-final encounter with Atletico Nacional.
The Japanese side recorded a hard-fought 2-1 win over Auckland City to book their ticket for the quarter-finals, with Kanazaki netting an 88th-minute winner to send his side through, and they once more struggled early on.
Nevertheless, goalkeeper Hitoshi Sogahata put in a fine performance to keep Kashima's chances alive and Endo and Kanazaki eventually made the difference at the other end after the break.
Mamelodi were in charge right from the off and they got a fine chance to open the scoring in the 13th minute when Khama Billiat sent Thapelo Morena clean through on goal, the defender forcing Sogahata into a strong save.
The Sundowns continued to dominate proceedings before the break and Percy Tau was next to threaten for the South African side, Sogahata again showing his class to parry the 22-year-old's low shot after a quick counterattack.
Billiat then wasted a gilt-edged chance to break the deadlock when he aimed too high after Tebogo Langerman's low cross from the left, before the winger had a powerful shot kept out by Sogahata in the 35th minute as Mamelodi kept on pushing for the opener.
Kashima slowly grew into the game after the break and Daigo Nishi thought he had handed his side the lead when he got his foot to a cross from the left, only for Wayne Arendse to deny the full-back with a stunning goal-line clearance.
But the J.League champions went 1-0 up in the 63rd minute when Endo fired home from 10 yards out after Shoma Doi did well to head a cross from the right into his path.
Kanazaki missed a chance to put the match to bed with 15 minutes left, but he made amends in the 88th minute with a calm finish to make it two.