Southeast Asia Thailand

Urawa and Jeonbuk to Face-Off in ACL Semifinal

Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds and South Korea’s Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors became the first two teams to qualify into the 2022 AFC Champions League semifinals after winning their respective quarterfinal ties on Monday. Jeonbuk survived extra-time to see off Japan’s Vissel Kobe 3-1, while Urawa crushed Thailand’s BG Pathum United 4-0 to book their own spot in the semis.

After prevailing in their round of 16 epics – Jeonbuk beating fellow South Korean side Daegu FC 2-1 thanks to a last-minute goal in extra-time while Vissel survived a 3-2 showdown with fellow Japanese side Yokohama F. Marinos – another thrilling match was served up by both Jeonbuk and Vissel at the Saitama Stadium 2002.

An action-packed yet goalless first half was followed by Koya Yuruki opening proceedings for Vissel in the 64th minute, seizing upon a parried Yuki Kobayashi shot to rifle home past Jeonbuk goalie Lee Bum-soo.

However, two minutes afterwards a defensive error made by Vissel allowed former Reading and Swansea City danger man Modou Barrow to equalize for Jeonbuk.

Jeonbuk then proceeded to bombard the Vissel defense in search of a winner, but both their profligacy and Daiya Maekawa’s prowess in the Vissel goal meant that the match would have to go into extra-time to decide a winner.

The additional 30 minutes gave Jeonbuk ample time in once again unlocking the Vissel defense and the 2-time AFC Champions League winners did just that in the 103rd minute, Gustavo giving the South Koreans the lead with a towering header after beating Gotoku Sakai in an aerial duel.

A devastating counterattack by Jeonbuk in the second minute of injury time led to Moon Seon-min firing home past Maekawa, effectively sealing Jeonbuk’s win and their ticket to the semifinal.

Tuesday’s late kick-off saw both Urawa and BGPU squaring off against one another at the Saitama Stadium 2002, with the two sides having qualified into the quarterfinals thanks to emphatic wins in the round of 16. Urawa’s Scandinavian contingent shined on August 19th’s round of 16 match as the Japanese side demolished Malaysian giants Johor Darul Ta’zim 5-0 to end the Southern Tigers’ fairytale run, while on the same day BGPU ended another fairytale run of this year’s ACL, with Hong Kong’s Kitchee SC being routed 4-0 by the Glass Rabbits.

Backed by their faithful supporters, Urawa turned on the power and utterly dominated BGPU, however, it took them until the 32nd minute to open the scoring after David Moberg Karlsson managed to beat Kittipong Phutawchueak in the BGPU goal with a low shot.

Ten minutes later Takuya Iwanami made it 2-0 after he managed to shake off Irfan Fandi and glance home a Ken Iwao corner into Kittipong’s goal.

Urawa’s dominance continued into the second half and despite BGPU trying to resist through Ikhsan Fandi and Pathompol Charoenrattanapirom, the men in red threw the match beyond the Glass Rabbits’ reach after Yosho Koizumi made it 3-0 for Urawa in the 65th minute.

Yosuke Akimoto then capped off Urawa’s dominant win in the 72nd minute, finishing off an excellent free-flowing move from Ricardo Rodriguez’s men with a powerful shot that went beyond Kittipong’s reaches.

Jeonbuk and Urawa will face-off for a ticket to this season’s ACL final on August 25th at the Saitama Stadium 2002.