Saitama: Urawa Red Diamonds forward Shinzo Koroki says the two-time champions are motivated by thoughts of a third AFC Champions League title after Tuesday's 3-0 win over Beijing FC secured passage to the Knockout Stage.
There is a feeling amongst those at Urawa Red Diamonds of unfinished business at the AFC Champions League. Winners in 2017, the Reds were unable to qualify for the 2018 edition and thus never had the opportunity to retain their title.
The return to the Continental competition this year has, instead, been perceived as a belated defence of the championship they memorably lifted at Saitama Stadium after a victory over Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal.
And that aim, admitted Koroki, was a key motivating factor in the winner-take-all clash with Beijing FC on Matchday Six.
Group G: Urawa Red Diamonds (JPN) 3-0 Beijing FC (CHN)
Saitama: Two-time champions Urawa Red Diamonds reached the Round of 16 of the 2019 AFC Champions League with a comfortable 3-0 win at home over Beijing FC on Tuesday.
Kazuki Nagasawa, a first-half sub for the injured Yosuke Kashiwagi, ignited the Reds by scoring the opener and assisting Yuki Muto for the second before half-time. Shinzo Koroki ensured all three points with a late third for Urawa, who punched the second ticket out of Group G into the Round of 16.
Group G: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC (KOR) 0-0 Buriram United (THA)
Jeonju: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors were held to a 0-0 draw by Thailand’s Buriram United in their Group G meeting in the AFC Champions League on Tuesday.
The result mattered little, however as Jeonbuk had already sealed their spot in the next phase of the competition as Group G winners ahead of kick-off and Jose Morais’ side will next face Chinese Super League champions Shanghai SIPG in the Round of 16 next month.
The 2006 and 2016 champions were made to battle for the point at Jeonju World Cup Stadium against a Buriram United side looking to notch up a second win in a row against the K League side after their victory in Thailand on Matchday Two.
Group H: Sydney FC (AUS) 0-4 Kawasaki Frontale (JPN)
Japan’s Kawasaki Frontale missed out on a place in the last 16 of the 2019 AFC Champions League despite Yasuto Wakizaka scoring twice to secure a 4-0 win over newly crowned A-League Grand Final winners Sydney FC on Tuesday.
Wakizaka opened the scoring after just nine minutes at Jubilee Stadium, with Kawasaki needing to better Shanghai SIPG’s result against Group H winners Ulsan Hyundi to qualify for the knockout stage.
But despite Wakizaka and Ao Tonaka adding further goals before half-time and Brazilian striker Leandro Damiao in the second half, Shanghai’s 5-0 win over Ulsan meant it was the Chinese Super League side who advanced as Group H runners-up.
Guangzhou: Daegu FC forward Kim Dae-won has admitted that his 2019 AFC Champions League experience feels like a dream ahead of the Korean side’s Group F clash against Guangzhou Evergrande on Wednesday.
Kim scored the third goal against the Chinese Super League team on Matchday Two as tournament debutants Daegu claimed a 3-1 victory and underlined their status as genuine qualification contenders with the scalp of the two-time champions.
Just over two months on and Daegu travel to Tianhe Stadium two points ahead of their hosts in the battle for the group’s runners-up spot and knowing if they avoid defeat, a place in the last 16 will be theirs.
Group H: Shanghai SIPG FC (CHN) 5-0 Ulsan Hyundai FC (KOR)
Shanghai: Brazilian Oscar scored a hat-trick as Chinese Super League side Shanghai SIPG FC secured a fourth consecutive appearance in the last 16 of the AFC Champions League after beating Group H winners Ulsan Hyundai FC from Korea Republic 5-0 on Tuesday.
With a win guaranteeing Shanghai a place in the knockout stage, Oscar opened the scoring at the Shanghai Stadium after just seven minutes before doubling the home side’s lead just before half-time.
Changwon: Johor Darul Ta’zim captain Hariss Harun believes the Malaysian side will play without pressure when they take on Korea Republic’s Gyeongnam FC in Group E of the 2019 AFC Champions League on Wednesday.
JDT currently sit bottom of the standings – one point behind their opponents at Changwon Football Center and three adrift of second-placed Kashima Antlers – but can go through if they win and holders Kashima lose at home to group winners Shandong Luneng.
While the scenario may be unlikely and qualification is out of JDT’s hands, the tournament debutants travel to Korea Republic with confidence having produced a major upset in defeating the defending champions 1-0 two weeks ago following Syafiq Ahmad's second-half strike.