ACL: Penalties Send Urawa Past Seongnam And Into Final
Urawa will meet either Sepahan of Iran or UAE’s Al-Wahda in the final in November
Urawa Reds defeated South Korea's Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma on penalties on Wednesday night in Saitama to become the first Japanese team to reach the final of the Asian Champions League.
After a 2-2 draw in the first leg, a thrilling return match saw the same scoreline and also saw the Japanese champions take the shootout 4-3 after Seongnam’s Choi Sung-kuk missed from the spot.
It was an unfortunate way to end 210 minutes of football that may not have impressed the purists but provided a fast, furious and exciting advertisement for Asian football.
Seongnam conceded a first half goal in front of a full-house at Saitama stadium but fought back after the break to put themselves in a winning position before suffering the ultimate heartbreak.
Urawa striker Washington, playing with a mask to protect a facial injury inflicted in last weekend’s J-League win at JEF United, put the hosts ahead in some style midway through the first half.
The big Brazilian, standing on the right corner of the Seongnam area, cushioned a long ball from midfield on his thigh and then with his next touch, smacked a right-foot shot across the diving Kim Yong-dae and into the left-side of the goal.
Seongnam equalised after the break. The Koreans had been on top since the start of the second half without creating a clear-cut opportunity but that changed 11 minutes after the restart.
Inside the area, Itamar turned his marker beautifully and, on the edge of the six-yard box, squared the ball to Choi Sung-kuk who slotted home.
The hosts were rattled and Seongnam added a second after 69 minutes, a goal that not only gave the K-League team the lead but also cancelled Urawa’s away goals advantage.
A shot from Itamar from outside the area was saved by Ryota Tsuzuki but the Urawa ‘keeper only succeeded in parrying the ball into the path of substitute Kim Dong-hyun who headed home.
The visitors were in the ascendancy for less than four minutes as a free-kick floated into the penalty area by Robson Ponte was headed across goal byYuki Abe and fired home by Makoto Hasebe.
With the aggregate score 4-4, the game drifted into extra time and then penalties.