KAWASAKI – Urawa Reds’ flame continues to burn brightly in the Asian Champions League after they reached the semifinals on Wednesday but Kawasaki Frontale’s hopes of progressing were extinguished after a penalty shootout defeat to Sepahan.
Kawasaki dominated for 120 minutes at Todoroki Stadium but it was eliminated after going down 5-4 in the shootout to the Iranian Hazfi Cup holders after the tie finished goal less over two legs.
Urawa marched on after knocking out holders Chonbuk Motors, a 2-0 win in South Korea giving the reigning J. League champions a 4-1 aggregate victory.
Urawa’s reward is an appointment with either South Korea’s Seongnam Ilhwa or last year’s runnerup Al Karama of Syria, who play later Wednesday.
Sepahan will meet the winners of a later quarterfinal between Al Wahda of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabian side Al Hilal.
With Kawasaki’s challenge for domestic honors a long time dead, manager Takashi Sekizuka decided to rest at least half a dozen regulars, including star striker Juninho, for Sunday’s 4-0 league defeat against Kashiwa Reysol.
Juninho certainly appeared to have benefited from the break and the Brazilian striker twice went going close to breaking the deadlock in the first half.
Sepahan ‘keeper Abbas Mohammadi denied Juninho with important stops on both occasions, blocking with his leg in the 36th minute and then pulling off a superb stop in the 41st after Juninho had danced past four defenders.
Sepahan rarely posed a threat although Emad Mohammed thought he had headed the Iranians after eight minutes, only for the goal to be ruled out for offside.
Kawasaki upped the tempo after the interval and Yoshinobu Minowa spurned a great chance to put the home side in front just before the hour mark when he directed a free header straight at Mohammadi.
Despite dominating the rest of the game, Kawasaki was unable to find a way through in 120 minutes and lost its nerve in the shootout.
The two-leg semifinals take place Oct. 3 and 24.
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