J.League clubs face differing tasks ahead of AFC Champions League second legs

J.League clubs face differing tasks ahead of AFC Champions League second legs

Kawasaki Frontale’s first match of 2024 went according to plan as they traveled to China and defeated Shandong Taishan, 3-2, in the first leg of their AFC Champions League Round of 16 tie.

New signing Erison scored in his Frontale debut when he converted from the penalty spot after 28 minutes and his compatriot Marcinho doubled the lead five minutes later when he met Yasuto Wakizaka’s great cross with a wonderful diving header.

After Shandong cut the Frontale lead in half, Akihiro Ienaga restored the two-goal advantage with a beautiful solo effort.

A late goal by the Chinese club sent Frontale home with a 3-2 advantage, which puts them in the driver’s seat heading back to Kawasaki for the final 90 minutes of the tie.

Yokohama F·Marinos had a productive first leg of their own, as they went to Thailand and managed a 2-2 draw with Bangkok United.

The Tricolor started on fire and were 2-0 up by the 24th minute.

First, Élber was able to poke a corner kick over the line to put Marinos on the scoreboard then Kota Watanabe got on the end of a cross and directed into the back of the net for a two-goal lead.

Unfortunately, Marinos couldn’t make it hold. Nitipong Selanon scored 10 minutes later and then Mahmoud Eid equalized in stoppage time when he found himself unmarked in front of goal to head home.

Still, the Tricolor went to Bangkok and managed a draw. All that stands between them and the quarter-finals is a win in front of their adoring home crown in Yokohama, which is a manageable position to be in.

Ventforet Kofu didn’t have the same luck as their Japanese counterparts, falling to Ulsan Hyundai, 3-0. Joo Min-kyu scored twice for the South Korean club and now Ventforet will hope that they have an epic comeback in them in the home leg.

The Round of 16 will conclude this week with all three clubs playing their second legs back in Japan, where they hope their familiar confines and adoring supporters can propel them to victory.