KAWASAKI – Kawasaki Frontale finished off Thailand’s Muangthong United with a 4-1 second-leg win to advance to the quarterfinals of the Asian Champions League 7-2 on aggregate Tuesday night.
Two goals in the space of a minute in the first half from Yu Kobayashi and Tatsuya Hasegawa put Frontale out of sight before Eduardo Neto’s header made it 3-0 shortly before the break at Todoroki Stadium.
Rhayner hit the fourth late on before Teerasil Dangda scored an 89th-minute consolation goal for the Thais.
“We were 3-1 up from the first leg but I told the players not to let up and sent them out on the pitch with the aim of finishing off the issue in the first half and they carried out my instructions right from the start,” Frontale manager Toru Oniki said.
“We wanted to control the second half even at 3-0 up but lost our compactness a bit. Our mission has been to get through the group stage, then the round of 16 and now the last eight. We are just trying to clear each of these goals and move forward.”
Frontale reached the last eight for the first time since 2009. Kashima Antlers will not be joining Frontale in the draw, though. The defending J. League champions beat China’s Guangzhou Evergrande 2-1 at home for a 2-2 aggregate, but were eliminated on the away goals rule.
The quarterfinals will take place over two legs in August and September.
Goals from Kengo Nakamura, Kobayashi and Hiroyuki Abe in the 3-1 first-leg win last week put Frontale in pole position to advance.
And the home side dominated the early stages and had strong claims for a penalty waved away by referee Alireza Faghani in the 11th minute, when Kyohei Noborizato went down in the box after wriggling his way behind the Muangthong defense.
Yusuke Tasaka went close in the 25th minute, collecting a short corner from Nakamura and sending a curling effort just wide of the right-hand post.
Frontale finally broke the deadlock in the 31st, Kobayashi taking Noborizato’s pass and turning inside Theerathon Bunmathan before drilling home a low shot.
“We scored three goals away from home so I thought once we scored the first tonight we’d basically be through. But until the first goal came it was a bit difficult to break our opponents down,” said Kobayashi.
“I thought they would really come at us but they didn’t and that kind of made them a little bit awkward to play against. But we scored three goals in the first half and Eduardo Neto got one from a set piece and I think we did really well.
“As a representative of Japan we want to go as far in the competition as we can.”
Kobayashi then turned provider for the second, picking out Hasegawa at the far post to lash high into an empty net. Neto connected with Nakamura’s cross to further extend Frontale’s lead five minutes before halftime.
Kawasaki sat back in the second period and Muangthong nearly pulled a goal back with 17 minutes left, Teerasil hitting the post before Mongkol Tossakrai picked up the rebound, only to see his shot cleared off the line by Tatsuki Nara.
But substitute Rhayner made it 4-0 in the 79th minute, sweeping home Kobayashi’s back-heel flick from a tight angle. Teerasil headed home Chanathip Songkrasin’s cross to wrap up the scoring.
“We had to score three goals away from home so it was never going to be easy,” said Muangthong coach Totchtawan Sripan.
“We tried to show respect to Kawasaki but maybe we showed them a bit too much respect.
“We already knew how dangerous Kobayashi is, even though he was only a substitute in the first leg. But he is not the only good player for Kawasaki. There are lots, and we had to try and find a way to deal with all of them.”
Urawa Reds play South Korea’s Jeju United on Wednesday night trailing 2-0 from the first leg.
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