Saitama: Urawa Red Diamonds head coach Ricardo Rodriguez was confident his side would prevail in their penalty shootout against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors as the Japanese outfit secured their spot in February’s AFC Champions League™ 2022 final at the end of a dramatic semi-final at Saitama Stadium 2002 on Thursday.
Goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa saved penalties from Kim Bo-kyung and Lee Seung-gi to set up a 3-1 shoot-out win for the two-time winners after a breathless conclusion to extra-time saw the game end in a 2-2 draw.
Yusuke Matsuo put Urawa in front before Paik Seung-ho’s penalty levelled the scores while Kasper Junker hit the post in the dying moments of regulation time. Han Kyo-won then thought he had won the tie for Jeonbuk before Junker’s last-gasp equaliser took the game to penalties.
Saitama: Fatigue especially, and jitters were the reasons Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors' AFC Champions League™ 2022 dream ended on Thursday.
Kim Sang-sik's side gave the semi-final tie against Japan's Urawa Red Diamonds their all but a third consecutive match that went to extra-time took its toll on the Korea Republic champions, with their head coach admitting that fatigue and nervousness led to them crashing out.
Urawa defeat Jeonbuk on penalties to book final berth
Saitama: Urawa Red Diamonds will play in the AFC Champions League™ 2022 final after goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa made a pair of penalty saves to ensure the J1 League side handed Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC a 3-1 shootout defeat at Saitama Stadium 2002 on Thursday following a 2-2 draw in 120 minutes.
Nishikawa’s heroics mean the J.League side will face the top club from West Asia in the continental showpiece over two legs on February 19 and 26.
Yusuke Matsuo had given Urawa an 11th minute lead before Paik Seung-ho struck from the penalty spot 10 minutes into the second half to take the game into extra-time, where late drama ensued before Urawa won the shoot-out. Han Kyo-won thought he had won the game for Jeonbuk with only four minutes remaining as he slid in to steer home Lee Seung-gi’s cross only for Kasper Junker to net the equaliser.
Nishikawa then denied Kim Bo-kyung and Lee Seung-gi in the first two rounds of spot-kicks and Ataru Esaka hit the winning penalty with one round remaining to take Urawa into the final for the fourth time in their history and the third time in six years.
Kuala Lumpur: Paulo Josue is confident Kuala Lumpur City can reach the AFC Cup™ 2022 final in their debut season after seeing off Indonesia’s PSM Makassar 5-2 in the ASEAN Zonal final at the Kuala Lumpur Stadium on Wednesday.
The Brazilian produced a captain’s performance, scoring a brace to steer Kuala Lumpur to the Inter-Zone Semi-Finals.
Hodak praises five-star KL City; Tavares laments off day
Kuala Lumpur: Head coach Bojan Hodak was full of praise for his Kuala Lumpur City charges following their 5-2 victory over Indonesia’s PSM Makassar in the AFC Cup™ 2022 ASEAN Zonal Final at the Kuala Lumpur Stadium on Wednesday.
The Malaysian side led 3-0 but PSM threatened a comeback after scoring twice but Kuala Lumpur put the game to bed with further goals from Paulo Josue and Hadin Azman.
Dubai: In an exceptional season that will see a long winter break for FIFA World Cup™ Qatar 2022 participants, the Saudi Pro League is set to kick off on Thursday with Matchday One scheduled to take place over three days.
Reigning Saudi and Asian champions Al Hilal SFC kick-off their title defence on Thursday against newly-promoted Al Khaleej, while 2021/22 King’s Cup champions Al Faiha get the season underway earlier on the same day against last season’s surprise package Damac.