Saitama: Urawa Reds bounced back from going a goal down to secure a battling 3-2 win over Guangzhou Evergrande to keep their hopes of advancing to the Round of 16 of the 2013 AFC Champions League at Saitama Stadium on Wednesday.
Despite the loss Guangzhou secured a place in the next round due to their better head-to-head record against Urawa, who now must beat Muangthong United in the final round of matches next week and hope the back-to-back Chinese Super League champions, defeat Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.
Lucas Barrios opened the scoring for Guangzhou 36 minutes into the game but second half goals from Shinzo Koroki, Yuki Abe and Marcio Richardes (Marcio Richardes de Andrade) earned Urawa only their second win of the 2013 campaign, despite a late goal from Muriqui (Luiz Guilherme da Conceição Silva)
Guangzhou remain on 10 points with one round of group matches left to play while Urawa move on to seven.
Urawa should have taken the lead in the 24th minute when Yuki Abe stepped up to the penalty spot after Iranian referee Mohsen Torki had adjudged Marcio Richardes was brought down, but the former Leicester City man’s effort hit the post before bouncing to safety.
The Reds were to regret that miss as Guangzhou threatened on the break. Just three minutes later, Muriqui picked up Dario Conca’s perfectly weighted pass only to see his shot from range pushed over the bar by Nobuhiro Kato. Two minutes later, Zheng Zhi steered his effort just wide.
Guangzhou finally took the lead with nine minutes remaining in the half when Muriqui, midway into his own half, dispossessed Ryota Moriwaki before threading the ball through to Barrios, and the Paraguayan bore down on goal, finding his way past Kato as he raced out of goal before rolling his effort home.
With their hopes of advancing ebbing away, Urawa regrouped and within seven minutes of the restart Mihail Petrovic’s side were level when Koroki slotted home from close range.
Eleven minutes later, Urawa took the lead with Abe atoning for his penalty miss when, after feeding Tomoaki Makino down the left, slotted the defender’s centre beyond Zeng Cheng while at full stretch.
By the 66th minute, Urawa had doubled their lead after Torki awarded the J.League side another penalty, this time after Zheng Zhi had brought down Koroki. Marcio Richardes stepped up and emphatically thumped the ball beyond the reach of Zeng.
There was further drama as Marcello Lippi was sent to the stands for kicking away a water bottle in frustration and, with only four minutes remaining, Muriqui scored his sixth of the group stages from close range following Conca’s free kick, with Torki overruling a decision by his assistant that suggested the effort was offside to set up a nervous finish for Urawa.
The J.League side managed to hold on as Guangzhou defender Zhang Linpeng was sent off for an off the ball incident with Urawa substitute Nobuhisa Yamada as the game finished in dramatic fashion.