Japan’s Urawa win penalty thriller to achieve AFC ultimate
Goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa was the hero as Japan’s Urawa Pink Diamonds beat cussed Jeonbuk Motors of South Korea 3-1 on penalties to achieve the ultimate of the Asian Champions League on Thursday.
Nishikawa was mobbed by his team-mates after saving twice within the shootout in entrance of Urawa’s followers in Saitama, a nervy semi-final having ended 2-2 after extra-time when the house facet grabbed a leveller proper on the loss of life.
The ultimate takes place in February in opposition to a group from the AFC’s western zone, with reigning champions Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia among the many contenders.
Urawa need to win Asia’s high membership competitors for a 3rd time, and Nishikawa stated their vocal supporters had performed a vital half.
“The followers had been behind me for the shootout they usually put strain on their gamers. I loved the shootout,” stated the goalkeeper.
“We fought for 120 minutes and we by no means gave up till the ultimate whistle.
“It is nice to have fun this with the followers who got here right here tonight.”
Urawa, who gained the Champions League in 2007 and 2017, had been prolific coming into the match, plundering 20 targets of their previous 4 matches within the match.
It seemed like one other goalfest when winger Yusuke Matsuo bundled in from shut vary on 11 minutes after a harmful cross from full-back Hiroki Sakai.
However Jeonbuk, themselves two-time former champions, proved to be no pushover and had been a risk on the break.
On one event, former Leeds United and Swansea Metropolis winger Mo Barrow raced downfield and reduce for Tune Min-kyu, who beat his man earlier than rattling a fierce shot simply over the bar.
The Okay League facet wanted extra-time to achieve the quarter-finals and semi-finals, and their coach Kim Sang-sik had referred to as his gamers “actually drained”.
Nevertheless it was the guests who completed the primary half the stronger, and 10 minutes into the second interval Jeonbuk had been stage.
The ever-threatening Tune was introduced down within the field and after a chronic VAR verify, Paik Seung-ho squeezed within the ensuing penalty.
They went to extra-time and Jeonbuk thought they’d defied fatigue to win it within the 116th minute, just for Urawa’s Danish ahead Kasper Junker to seize a last-gasp equaliser within the a hundred and twentieth minute.
“What a roller-coaster. Taking place 2-1 in extra-time is so troublesome however we saved preventing,” stated Junker.
“My objective was so vital, however should you see within the build-up the deal with Hiroki (Sakai) makes is what makes the winner.
“That mentality has to shine by means of all people as a result of it is simply wonderful.”
The knockout phases of this 12 months’s Champions League within the jap area of the draw have all taken place in Saitama and over one leg due to Covid.