Asia AFC Champions League

10-Man Yokohama Clinch Maiden Semifinal Ticket After Surviving Shandong Challenge

Yokohama F.Marinos made history by advancing to the AFC Champions League semifinals for the first time ever, courtesy of Anderson Lopes’ decisive goal securing a 1-0 victory over Shandong Taishan on Wednesday, completing a 3-1 aggregate triumph for Harry Kewell’s squad.

Lopes found the back of the net in the 75th minute, a moment of brilliance that proved crucial as Yokohama navigated most of the second half with ten players following Katsuya Nagato’s sending off for a second yellow card offense early in the half.

This triumph sets up an exciting clash with two-time champions Ulsan HD from South Korea next month, with a coveted spot in May’s final awaiting the winner, who will face either Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia or United Arab Emirates’ Al Ain.

In the first leg in Jinan, Yokohama held a slim 2-1 lead, and they started the return leg at the Nissan Stadium with intent, as Nagato’s early attempt troubled Shandong’s goalkeeper Wang Dalei. However, Shandong responded with long-range efforts, while the hosts’ attacks grew in threat as the half progressed.

The second half saw a dramatic turn when Nagato received his marching orders, but Yokohama continued to press forward relentlessly. Despite being a man down, Lopes posed a constant threat, forcing Wang into crucial saves.

The Tricolore’s persistence paid off when Riku Yamane set up Lopes for a spectacular left-footed volley, putting them ahead with 15 minutes remaining. Shandong’s hopes were further dashed when Gao Zhunyi was shown a direct red card, leaving Yokohama to close out the match and celebrate a historic victory.