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Kawasaki Frontale became the first Japanese club ever to advance to the knockout stage of the Asian Champions League after crushing Indonesia’s Arema Malang 3-0 on Wednesday.

News photoKawasaki Midfielder Kengo Nakamura, No. 14, reacts as his teammates celebrate his goal against
Indonesia’s Arema Malang in the Asian Champions League at Todoroki Stadium on Wednesday. Frontale won
3-0.
KYODO PHOTO

Two well taken strikes from Kengo Nakamura and a late goal from Taku Harada got the job done for Kawasaki and ensured the 2006 J. League runners-up won Group F and reached the quarterfinals with a game to spare.

Urawa Reds stayed on course to join Frontale in the last eight despite being held to a 3-3 draw away to Persik Kediri of Indonesia.

Yuki Abe’s 62nd-minute header looked to have clinched victory for the Reds but substitute striker Budi Sudarsono leveled for the Indonesian champions seven minutes from time.

Urawa still lead Group E by one point and can clinch a place in the quarterfinals with a draw in their final game at home to Sydney FC on May 23. Sydney were held 0-0 at home by China’s Shanghai Shenhua.

At Todoroki Stadium, Kawasaki controlled the early stages and Nakamura put them in front when he beat Arema keeper Hendro Kartiko with a crisp finish after just four minutes.

Hiroyuki Taniguchi and Juninho both missed gilt-edged opportunities to extend the home side’s lead while Arema tested Eiji Kawashima for the first time after 22 minutes.

Patricio Morales Gaete had the Kawasaki keeper at full stretch with a low drive and Kawashima was then called upon to push a Richie Hari header onto the post on the half hour mark.

Arema, who arrived in Japan with a squad of just 12 players because of injuries and suspensions, came into the game needing to beat Kawasaki by two clear goals to keep their slim hopes of advancing alive.

But Nakamura extinguished those hopes when he collected a Taniguchi pass and danced past Sunar Sulaiman to slot the ball in off the post. Substitute Harada smashed home from close range 10 minutes from time to complete the win.

Kawasaki have 13 points from five games, seven more than second-placed Bangkok University who beat South Korea’s Chunnam Dragons in the other Group F match.

No Japanese team had progressed past the group stage since the Asian Champions League was inaugurated in 2002.

Chiba falls again

CHIBA (Kyodo) Holders JEF United Chiba suffered their second Nabisco Cup defeat in a row on Wednesday after a 1-0 reverse at home to Vissel Kobe.

Keisuke Kurihara scored the decider from four meters out in the 55th minute at Fukuda Denshi Arena and Sanfrecce Hiroshima opened up Group A by beating Gamba Osaka by the same scoreline.

Chiba lead the group with nine points while Sanfrecce lie second behind the two-time champions on goal difference after Ryuchi Hirashige’s 15th-minute winner sealed the points at Expo Stadium.

Gamba is third on seven points with Kobe bottom on four.

Yokohama F. Marinos went top of Group B after Koji Yamase’s penalty put them on the way to a 3-0 win over Kashiwa Reysol while Omiya Ardija dropped into second after a 2-1 defeat to Shimizu S-Pulse, former Japan striker Akinori Nishizawa hitting a last-gasp winner for the visitors.

Yokohama FC put their miserable league form behind them by beating FC Tokyo 1-0 courtesy of Tomoya Uchida’s free kick and share first place on nine points in Group C with Oita Trinita, who went down 1-0 at Jubilo Iwata.

In Group D, leaders Ventforet Kofu drew 0-0 at home to Albirex Niigata and Kashima Antlers moved into second after they came from behind to hammer Nagoya Grampus Eight 4-1.

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