Kuala Lumpur: After four days and seven matches of thrilling action in Saitama, the identity of the east region’s representative at the 2022 AFC Champions League Final was revealed: Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds.
With memorable moments a-plenty as a number of teams and players wrote new chapters into their histories. The-AFC.com looks back at what those involved had to say.
Kuala Lumpur: The 2022 AFC Champions League (EAST) knockout stage was held over the past two weeks in Saitama as a whirlwind few days of action ended in Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds booking their place in next February’s grand finale.
From the 19 teams that took part in the group stage (EAST) when it kicked off back in April just one remains as the representative to face the best of the west and be crowned kings of Asia.
With the competition now taking a break until the action returns with the knockout stages in the West next year, the-AFC.com looks back at the numbers that stood out after the recent set of games.
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.
Preview - SF (East): Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC (KOR) v Urawa Red Diamonds (JPN)
Saitama: Urawa Red Diamonds head coach Ricardo Rodriguez has called for another high-intensity display from his players when they take on Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC in the semi-final of the AFC Champions League™ 2022 (East) at Saitama Stadium 2002 on Thursday.
Rodriguez’s side go into the clash off the back of comprehensive wins over Johor Darul Ta’zim and BG Pathum United and the Spaniard is expecting more of the same against the K League 1 side, with a place in February’s final the prize for the victorious outfit.
Saitama: The East Zone of AFC Champions League™ 2022 has reached its climax with Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors of Korea Republic and Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds set to battle it out in what promises to be an intense clash.
Both clubs have faced each other several times in the AFC Champions League and are now aiming to go one step closer to clinching a third continental title.
Ahead of Thursday’s semi-final, the-AFC.com picks three players from each side who could shape the fortunes of their team.
Saitama: It will be a clash between two sides who have both won the AFC Champions League™ twice when Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC and Urawa Red Diamonds square off in the East semi-final of the 2022 edition on Thursday.
While Japan's Urawa have been in swashbuckling form in the knockout stage, Jeonbuk needed extra-time in both their Round of 16 and quarter-final ties to advance to the semi-final.
Join the-AFC.com as we take a look at some interesting facts and stats ahead of the semi-final, which will be the seventh meeting in the AFC Champions League between these two giants of Asian club football.