ACL 2019 SF Second Leg Toyota Player of the Week: Shusaku Nishikawa
Kuala Lumpur: Shusaku Nishikawa has been named as the Toyota Player of the Week after the goalkeeper's stand-out performance in Urawa Red Diamonds' 1-0 victory away at Guangzhou Evergrande on Wednesday helped his side into the 2019 AFC Champions League Final.
The custodian had blanked Guangzhou's dangerous attacking line-up in the first leg in Saitama at the beginning of October and he recorded a second clean sheet at the intimidating Tianhe Stadium.
Unlike in Japan, where he was rarely troubled, Nishikawa was called into action on multiple occasions in southern China and pulled off eight saves, the highest in the knockout stage and joint-third highest overall at the 2019 AFC Champions League, to earn an 8.7 rating.
On the same pitch but wearing the red shirt of Guangzhou, Zhang Linpeng (below), came in second in this week’s rankings after the full-back put in an impressive shift despite his side ultimately failing to progress to a third final.
Zhang was a blur of energy on the Guangzhou flanks and heavily involved throughout. The 30-year-old defender had 86 touches, 67 passes, won two tackles and created four chances for his teammates.
Despite his 7.8 rating, though, two-time Asian champion Zhang was unable to prevent Guangzhou suffering a first home defeat in 22 matches in the AFC Champions League in what was his first Continental semi-final defeat.
Another player who excelled despite his team's exit from the competition was Al Sadd captain Hassan Al Haydos (below, left), who claimed third spot after he scored in the 4-2 win over Al Hilal to register a 7.7 rating.
The 28-year-old had played in Nam Tae-hee for the Qatari side's second of the night before striking home himself from the centre of the penalty area to give Al Sadd a 3-1 lead on the night.
The 4-2 win, though, was not enough to overhaul the 4-1 defeat from the first leg with Al Sadd suffering a narrow elimination via a 6-5 aggregate scoreline.
Al Hilal's Salem Al Dawsari enters the list at number four with a 7.5 rating. The winger netted the vital opener in the match against Al Sadd. The Saudi Arabia international's goal came from three shots on target while he also registered 40 passes and one created chance.
Completing the top five is Al Sadd's Korea Republic midfielder Nam Tae-hee with a 7.5 rating after he scored and created two chances in the win over Al Hilal.
Urawa's goalscorer Shinzo Koroki is next with a 7.5 rating, and he is followed by Guangzhou pair Park Ji-soo and Zhong Yihao who received 7.3 and 7.1 ratings respectively.