Soccer

Antlers reach Asian Champions League semifinals for first time

Kyodo

The Kashima Antlers secured their first-ever berth in the Asian Champions League semifinals on Tuesday night with a 5-0 aggregate victory over China’s Tianjin Quanjian in the round of eight.

The J. League side followed its impressive 2-0 first-leg win with a clinical 3-0 result against its Chinese Super League opponent in the second leg of the quarterfinal at Macau Olympic Complex Stadium.

Against a lineup boasting former AC Milan and Brazil forward Alexandre Pato, the Antlers controlled possession and limited their opponents’ attacking opportunities.

Antlers opened the scoring following a corner in the 14th minute, with Serginho heading home at the near post after beating Quanjian ‘keeper Zhang Lu to a Yasushi Endo cross.

They doubled the lead 13 minutes later when former Japan international Atsuto Uchida set up Hiroki Abe for a shot from the middle of the box.

Serginho was the provider for Kashima’s third, playing a through ball into the box for Shoma Doi, who beat Lu from just wide of the penalty spot.

The Antlers entered the match with a 2-0 aggregate lead thanks to second-half goals from Brazilian duo Leo Silva and Serginho in the opening leg at Kashima Stadium on Aug. 28.

Kashima had only once before appeared in the last eight, losing to eventual runner-up Adelaide United in 2008.