Suwon: Junya Tanaka, Ryoichi Kurisawa and Masato Kudo each scored twice as Japan’s Kashiwa Reysol maintained their 100% AFC Champions League record this season with a thrilling 6-2 win over Suwon Bluewings in Group H on Wednesday as the former semi-finalists were made to pay for converting just one of four second-half penalties.
Kashiwa led by only one goal at half-time courtesy of Tanaka's 16th minute close range finish before an unbelievable second half ensued at Suwon World Cup Stadium with the visitors scoring at regular intervals while Dzenan Radoncic and Jong Tae-se on two occasions missed from the penalty spot.
Choi Jae-soo had briefly pulled the home side back to 2-1 seven minutes into the second half, although only substitute Stevica Ristic was successful from the penalty spot with 18 minutes remaining as Kashiwa pulled five points clear at the top of Group H with Suwon left searching for their first win of the campaign after back-to-back draws.
“It was a hard game for both teams,” said Kashiwa coach Nelsinho Baptista.
“It is a shining victory over a K-League side at their home. My players showed how strong they are mentally and they proved their quality as the Japanese representative in Group H.
“There were several moments of challenge from home side, but we were able to endure them and we scored when we needed to.
“We are still on the top of the table and this result is a big step forward to the knockout stage of this season's AFC Champions League.”
Kashiwa needed just 16 minutes to open the scoring as Leandro Domingues’ clever chip into the penalty area intended for Kudo was only partially dealt with by second choice Suwon goalkeeper Yang Dong-won and Tanaka was on hand to poke the ball home from inside the six-yard area.
Suwon had the ball in the back of the net two minutes before half-time but Jong was adjudged to have strayed narrowly offside as the DPR Korea international found himself on the end of Radoncic’s header.
And the visitors again came close to an equaliser at the start of the second half following a handball inside the Suwon penalty area just 45 seconds after the restart, but goalkeeper Takanori Sugeno guessed right to push away Radoncic’s poor spot kick.
Kashiwa capitalised five minutes later as Kurisawa spectacularly doubled the visitors’ advantage as the midfielder unleashed an unstoppable dipping first-time volley from the edge of the area after Jong had headed clear Leandro’s corner.
The lead, though, lasted less than a minute as Choi followed up to tap in from close range after Sugeno had brilliantly kept out Jong’s header with a superb one-handed save.
But just three minutes later Kudo skipped past two Suwon defenders inside the area before coolly guiding a calm finish over Yang.
Kudo then rattled the Suwon crossbar before the home side were awarded a second penalty of the contest with 25 minutes remaining, but after being bundled over inside the area by Naoya Kondo, Jong blazed the resulting spot kick over the crossbar.
Kashiwa again took full advantage two minutes later as Tanaka raced into the area from Leandro Domingues’ pass and after skipping past the challenge of Kwak Kwang-sun, the striker calmly guided his shot into the far corner with Yang again left helpless.
The drama continued as Suwon were awarded a third penalty with 18 minutes remaining as Masato Fujita this time was adjudged to have pulled down Jong and just moments after his introduction, Ristic converted as the 2009 AFC Champions League winner with Pohang Steelers sent Sugeno the wrong way.
But three minutes later Kashiwa restored their three-goal advantage as Kurisawa followed up with Yang unable to recover after denying Kenta Kano.
There was still time for Suwon to be awarded a fourth penalty of the contest in the last minute of normal time as Kashiwa substitute Kim Chang-soo pulled back Seo Jung-jin on the edge of the penalty area, but with Jong resuming duties from 12 yards, the DPR Korea international fired wide of the post.
And just as they did with Suwon’s two previous failures from 12 yards, Kashiwa again capitalised with Kudo’s diving header from Kim’s stoppage-time cross bringing an end to a remarkable game.
“The ball is round. Everything can happen in this ball game and this is what we have learnt from this big loss to Kashiwa,” said Suwon coach Seo Jung-won.
“We were mentally OK and we were motivated, but we did not have enough desire to win. We lost our flexibility and became vulnerable to Kashiwa's counterattacks. I don't think football itself as the main factor for this result, but more mental.
“Football is such a fluid thing where if you fail to score you will allow opponent to get on the next wave of attack. We had enough chances to recover the balance, but we failed to regain the power.”