Reds, Antlers open Asian Champions League campaign with victories

Kyodo

It was a resounding night for J. League clubs in the Asian Champions League on Tuesday, as both Urawa Reds and Kashima Antlers launched their continental campaign with wins over Western Sydney Wanderers and Ulsan Hyundai, respectively.

Urawa got things going with a 4-0 away win over Western Sydney in Group F before J. League and Emperor’s Cup champion Kashima followed suit at home, where it defeated Ulsan Hyundai 2-0 in Group E.

At Western Sydney, Shinzo Koroki, Tadanari Lee, Tomoaki Makino and new signing Rafael Silva all scored in the second half as Urawa shook off its defeat to Kashima in the Fuji Xerox Super Cup on Saturday.

“The first game in the ACL is so crucial,” said Koroki, who now has 15 career goals in the ACL, a Japanese record. “We scored four away goals so this is a brilliant result.

“Our defense was working hard to keep the opponents off the scoreboard and I wanted to score one for them. The important thing in the ACL is to not lose away and make sure you win all your games at home.”

The Reds had a quiet opening half before erupting for a quartet of goals after the break, starting with Koroki’s toe-poke in the 56th minute from a through pass by Lee, who was named man of the match.

Just two minutes later, Koroki returned the favor by setting up Lee in the center of the box as the visitors made it 2-0 before Makino joined the party in the 68th minute, a right-footed volley from a corner.

Urawa’s fourth arrived with four minutes left on the clock courtesy of Silva, who came on in the 70th minute for Yuki Muto and buried his first shot in a Reds shirt to cap the rout for Mihailo Petrovic’s men.

“All in all, we deserved this victory,” Petrovic said.

In Kashima, Ibaraki Prefecture, the Antlers needed just as much time as the Reds did to break the deadlock, Mu Kanazaki nodding in a corner four minutes past the hour.

Kanazaki also created Kashima’s second in the 82nd minute, sending Yuma Suzuki behind the defense to lock up the three points.

Kawasaki Frontale and Gamba Osaka will look to keep the momentum going for the J. League on Wednesday. Kawasaki hosts Suwon Bluewings in Group G, while Gamba are away to Adelaide United in Group H.