Silvio Romero scored twice in the second-half to give America a 2-1 win over Asian champions Jeonbuk Motors in the Club World Cup on Sunday and earn the Mexican team a semi-final tie with Real Madrid.
Kim Bo-kyung gave the South Koreans a first-half lead before Romero turned the quarter-final around in the second-half to avoid another embarrassing afternoon for Mexican football in the tournament.
Jeonbuk were happy to sit back and play on the counter and the tactics paid off when former Cardiff City and Wigan Athletic midfielder Kim finished off a slick move to fire them in front in the 23rd minute.
Romero nearly equalised just after the half hour when his long-range shot was tipped over the crossbar by Hong Jeong-nam.
CONCACAF champions America, beaten by Chinese side Guangzhou Evergrande at the same stage of the tournament last season, were in danger of another early exit until two key halftime substitutions by Ricardo La Volpe turned the game around.
The former Mexico coach brought on Michael Arroyo and Jose Guerrero and the Eagles immediately looked more threatening.
They levelled in the 58th minute when Arroyo swung over a low cross from the left and Romero got in front of his marker to score with a glancing header which Hong got a hand to but could not stock.
Hong blocked another Romero effort with his legs but was powerless to stop America’s winner in the 74th minute.
An America corner was only partially cleared, the ball feel to Romero and the Argentine met it with a volley which took a slight deflection that wrong-footed the goalkeeper.
Mexico boasts one of the world’s richest leagues and their teams dominate the CONCACAF Champions League but have struggled at the Club World Cup.
In addition to America’s defeat last year, Pachuca were beaten in the quarter-finals in 2010 as were Monterrey in 2011 and again in 2013.
America will meet European champions Real Madrid in Tokyo on Thursday.