NAGOYA – Australian striker Josh Kennedy fired Nagoya Grampus into the semifinals of the Asian Champions League with a dramatic late goal in a 3-1 win over J. League rivals Kawasaki Frontale on Wednesday.
Kennedy, who scored Nagoya’s crucial away goal in last week’s 2-1 defeat in the first leg of the quarterfinal, tapped home to send his side through 4-3 on aggregate after Eiji Kawashima could only parry Magnum’s shot with two minutes left at a rain-lashed Mizuho Stadium.
Nagoya will meet either Uzbekistan’s Pakhtakor or Al Ittihad of Saudi Arabia in the two-legged semifinals on Oct. 21 and 28.
“I think both teams played very well but finally I am very proud about my players and the result, of course,” said Nagoya manager Dragan Stojkovic. “We absolutely deserved to go to the last four.”
“It’s a really nice feeling to be among the best four teams in Asia. Kawasaki is a good side but today Nagoya Grampus played really good football,” he added.
Yoshizumi Ogawa fired Nagoya in front after 27 minutes with a superb long-range effort and Maya Yoshida doubled the lead when he rose to glance home Alessandro Santos’ free kick.
But North Korean striker Chong Tese pulled one back for Frontale when he collected Renatinho’s pass and rifled home seven minutes before the break.
With the tie all square at 3-3, extra time beckoned but Kennedy was perfectly positioned to send Grampus into the semis.
“I was just in the right place at the right time,” said Kennedy. “Full credit to Magnum for the goal, he did all the hard work. It was a very dramatic finish with a couple of minutes to go and the winning goal was the perfect way to end the game tonight.”
Scolari’s side loses
POHANG , South Korea (AP) Pohang Steelers overcame a 3-1 first leg deficit to defeat Bunyodkor 4-1 after extra time and 5-4 on aggregate Wednesday to reach the Asian Champions League semifinals.
The loss ended Luiz Felipe Scolari’s first foray in Asian continental soccer.
Scolari, who guided his native Brazil to the 2002 World Cup title, joined the Uzbek club this season and was hoping to win the Asian championship and get a shot at the Club World Cup.
But it was Pohang’s Brazilian striker Denilson who guided South Korea’s Pohang into the last four.
Bunyodkor conceded three second half goals before Victor Karpenko scored in the final minute to send the game into extra time.
After 12 minutes of that, Macedonian striker Stevica Ristic headed the final goal of the game to send Pohang wild with delight.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.