NAGOYA – Yoshizumi Ogawa scored twice as Nagoya Grampus became the third Japanese team to progress to the knockout stage of the Asian Champions League with a 4-1 defeat of South Korea’s Ulsan Hyundai on Wednesday.
Ogawa set the wheels in motion with a stooping header after 14 minutes and Yuki Maki and Davi were also on target before Ogawa completed the scoring 18 minutes from time to book Grampus a place in the last 16 with a game to spare.
Grampus secured top spot in Group E with 11 points from five games. Australia’s Newcastle Jets moved into second spot on seven points after Sean Rooney snatched a last-gasp winner in a 2-1 defeat of Beijing Guoan. Ulsan are third with six points and Beijing bottom of the group with four.
Gamba Osaka, who have already qualified for the knockout stage along with Kawasaki Frontale, had Yasuhito Endo sent off in first-half injury time but the holders made it five wins out of five after Leandro’s second-half strike earned a 1-0 win away to China’s Shandong Luneng and guaranteed top spot in Group F.
Missing Brazilian midfielder Magnum and Serbian defender Milos Bajalica, Nagoya dominated the opening stages and took the lead when Ogawa got down low to put away Maki’s headed pass at the far post.
Ogawa returned the favor nine minutes later, swinging over a cross from the left for Maki to head past Ulsan goalkeeper Kim Young Kwang.
Ulsan had rarely threatened but Kim Shin Wook rose to meet Hyun Young Min’s free kick to pull them back into the game three minutes before halftime.
However, Davi restored Nagoya’s two-goal cushion just before the hour mark by glancing in Shohei Abe’s free kick and Ogawa lashed home his second following a neatly worked free kick involving substitute Keiji Tamada and Maki.
“The most important thing is that we achieved our goal. Finally we won at home, this is very important, and we secured first place in our group,” said Grampus manager Dragan Stojkovic, whose side had drawn their previous two ACL home games.
“We scored four goals and saw many good combinations and I think that my players were motivated for the game today. They showed really fantastic technical skills,” he said.
Kawasaki went down 3-1 to Tianjin Teda in an ugly encounter in China on Tuesday but Kashima eased past Suwon Bluewings 3-0 to put themselves on the brink of a place in the last 16.
The group stage wraps up May 20, with the final to be held in Japan in early November. The winners of the continent’s premier club competition clinch a spot at the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi in December.
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