• Kyodo


Urawa Reds bagged two important away goals as the J League champions earned a 2-2 draw away to South Korea’s Seongnam Ilhwa in their Asian Champions League semifinal first leg on Wednesday.

The Reds went behind on Mota’s 11th-minute opener but diminutive striker Tatsuya Tanaka equalized with his third consecutive goal in the ACL before Robson Ponte looked to have put Urawa firmly in the driving seat ahead of the return leg with a 66th-minute penalty.

However, Seongnam upped the pressure in the last quarter of an hour at a rain-lashed Seongnam Tancheon Sports Complex and were rewarded when Kim Do Heon snatched a late equalizer.

Brazilian striker Mota put the home side in front after 11 minutes, racing on to a diagonal Itamar pass to clip over Urawa goalkeeper Ryota Tsuzuki, but the Reds went on to dominate the rest of the first half.

Marcus Tulio Tanaka had a dipping effort saved on 32 minutes while Washington should have leveled for the visitors four minutes before the break but blazed over after bringing down a right-wing cross from Ponte.

Urawa finally hit back eight minutes into the second period when Tatsuya Tanaka lost his marker to nod Ponte’s cross into the right-hand corner of the net.

Nam Ki Il contrived to hit the woodwork at the other end when it seemed easier to score, but Urawa went in front as Ponte converted from the penalty spot after Kim Dong Hun had clattered into the back of Washington in the box.

Kim Do Heon equalized nine minutes from time for the K-League champions, stabbing home after Tsuzuki could only parry a stinging strike from Mota. The South Koreans thought they had won it with six minutes left but Kim Dong Hun’s effort was ruled out for offside.

The return leg in Saitama will be played on Oct. 24 with the winner advancing to the final, which is scheduled to take place over two legs on Nov. 7 and 14.

Al Wahda of the United Arab Emirates take on Iran’s Sepahan, who knocked out Kawasaki Frontale in the quarterfinals, in the other semifinal later Wednesday.

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