Hiroshima, Kawasaki knocked out of ACL


J. League champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima surrendered a two-goal first-leg advantage and crashed out of the Asian Champions League on Wednesday night after a 2-0 defeat away to Western Sydney Wanderers in the round of 16.

And Japanese interest in the competition ended an hour later as Kawasaki Frontale won 2-1 at FC Seoul but went out on away goals, the tie finishing 4-4 on aggregate.

A brace by Naoki Ishihara and a stoppage-time strike by Kosei Shibasaki had put Sanfrecce in the driving seat after last week’s 3-1 win at Edion Stadium.

But Shannon Cole fired Sydney into the lead early in the second half, and Brendon Santalab grabbed the second with five minutes left to make it 3-3 overall, sending the Australians into the last eight on away goals.

Ishihara had an early opportunity to put Hiroshima 4-1 ahead on aggregate, when he brought a good save out of Ante Covic on 12 minutes.

Former Japan midfielder Shinji Ono, playing his last game for the Wanderers before returning home to join J2 side Consadole Sapporo, fired just wide from distance at the other end for Sydney, who enjoyed long spells of pressure in the first half.

A completely unmarked Iacopo La Rocca squandered a golden chance when he headed over following a pinpoint corner from Ono in the 53rd minute, but Sydney leveled with man-of-the-match Ono again involved two minutes later.

The former Feyenoord star got another great cross in from the byline and Yoshifumi Kashiwa’s headed clearance fell to Cole, who smashed his shot high past Sanfrecce keeper Takuto Hayashi.

Hiroshima was forced to defend in numbers as the home side cranked up the pressure, and Hiroki Mizumoto missed a great chance to restore the two-goal overall lead when he headed over with 15 minutes left.

That miss was to prove costly as Santalab rammed home a loose ball after Mizumoto could only half-clear Ono’s dangerous ball into the box, triggering delirious scenes among home fans at Parramatta Stadium.

In South Korea, Seoul, 3-2 winners in the first leg at Todoroki, took the lead through former Urawa Reds striker Sergio Escudero on eight minutes.

Yu Kobayashi leveled for Frontale in the 29th and substitute Yoshihito Morishima made it 2-1 in the second minute of added time, but it proved too little, too late.