SEOUL – Urawa Reds mounted a remarkable extra-time comeback against FC Seoul but conceded a last-minute equalizer for a 3-3 draw on aggregate, and were knocked out of the Asian Champions League on penalties 7-6 on Wednesday in a frenetic round-of-16 encounter.
Holding a 1-0 lead from the first leg in Saitama, Urawa, the only team left from Japan, allowed a goal in the first half and another in extra time but Tadanari Lee scored two late goals to make it 2-2 on the night to give the Reds a one-goal lead.
But the 2007 title winners conceded on the last play of extra time. With their away-goal advantage eliminated when the game went to extra time, the late goal meant it would go down to penalties. Reds’ fifth-kicker in the shootout, ‘keeper Shusaku Nishikawa, saw what would have been a winner saved before Yoshiaki Komai was also denied by Yu Sang-hun at Seoul World Cup Stadium.
“This is an extremely painful defeat,” Urawa manager Mihailo Petrovic said. “We had to score in the second half and clinch the tie. There were chances to win, but we couldn’t seize them.”
Japan Under-23 captain Wataru Endo went from hero to villain in a matter of minutes in the first half as he prevented Dejan Damjanovic from scoring with a last-ditch tackle inside the box following a pass from Adriano, but the Brazilian took full advantage of clumsy control by Endo just before the half hour, blocking his pass in Urawa’s backline for Damjanovic to tap home.
Damjanovic should have made it 2-0 minutes into the break as a long ball from the backline caught the whole Reds defense napping, but the Montenegro forward shot straight at ‘keeper Nishikawa.
Urawa began to find some space as the game wore on. Makino sent a 32-meter free kick just over the bar before Endo carried the ball from backline in a well-coordinated move before seeing his shot deflected wide, while Zlatan Ljubijankic curled a cross-cum-shot away from goal looking for his teammates.
Arsenal flop Park Chu Young headed away from the goal from six yards and Adriano smashed straight at Nishikawa from the edge of the area for Seoul before the game entered extra time, but the pair combined as Adriano met a low cross in the 94th minute to take a 2-1 aggregate lead.
There was more to come, Komai heading a diagonal cross across the face of the goal for Lee to dive in to get a crucial lead in the 112nd minute before Tsukasa Umesaki exploited lax defending from the home side for Lee to volley home his second.
But the dramatic tie took another twist in the 122nd minute, Nishikawa unable to push away Go Yo Han’s left-footed shot. In the shootout, Urawa again relinquished the upper hand after the hosts’ third kicker, Osmar Barba, missed.
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