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Koroki stars in Urawa Red Diamonds' win

Ulsan: Shinzo Koroki struck in each half to secure Urawa Red Diamonds a 3-0 win against Ulsan Hyundai FC as the Japanese side advanced to the 2019 AFC Champions League quarter-finals 4-2 on aggregate. 

Ewerton added a third late in the game as the 2007 and 2017 winners overturned a 2-1 first leg loss at Saitama Stadium 2002 to secure a remarkable comeback and become the second Japanese side to advance to the last eight, 24 hours after Kashima Antlers achieved the same feat.

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Having struggled to make an impression in the first leg, Urawa went looking for the goals required to pull themselves back into contention for a place in the last eight right from the first whistle.

With only two minutes on the clock Fabricio sent his glancing header just wide off the target and soon after Ulsan defender Jeong Dong-ho forced his own goalkeeper Oh Seung-hoon to tip over the bar.

Mauricio Antonio fired off a shot from range that narrowly cleared the target while, with 18 minutes gone, Tomoaki Makino’s header hit the crossbar as Urawa went ever closer to the opener, the Japan international nodding against the woodwork following Ryosuke Yamanaka’s corner.

Ulsan rarely threatened, with only a breakaway attempt by Park Yong-woo causing any serious concern for the visitors and, with four minutes left in the half, the Japanese side claimed the goal their efforts warranted.

Tomoya Ugajin broke down the right before drifting in a cross that was met firmly by the unmarked Koroki, and he made no mistake with the placement of his header. Soon after, Fabricio almost secured Urawa’s second, only to shoot across the face of Oh’s goal.

Having pulled level on aggregate, Urawa still trailed on the away goals rule meaning Tsuyoshi Otsuki’s side needed to score again to stay alive in the competition.

A tense second half saw neither side dominate but, with just 10 minutes remaining, Urawa found their way past Oh for a second time, and once more it was Koroki with a header.

The veteran forward, an AFC Champions League winner with the club in 2017, reacted first to Mauricio Antonio’s cross from the right and he steered his header into the bottom corner of Oh’s goal.

And there was more to come for the Japanese side when, with just two minutes remaining, they put the result beyond doubt when Ewerton swept the ball home from inside the area to seal the comeback and take Urawa into the last eight for the fourth time.

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