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Urawa put on masterclass to advance to AFC Champions League semi-final

Urawa put on masterclass to advance to AFC Champions League semi-final

Urawa Reds are into the semi-finals of the AFC Champions League after four different players scored in a 4-0 win over BG Pathum United of Thailand and kept dreams of an unprecedented third Asian championship alive.

The Reds were on the front foot right from the beginning, scoring within a minute, only to have it called back by VAR.

It was a statement of intent, though, and in the 32nd minute Urawa got properly on the board. David Moberg hit a blistering shot from 15 yards that the goalkeeper got a hand to but was never going to keep out. The Dane, who also scored a brace in Urawa’s Round of 16 victory, celebrated in front of his adoring fans and the Reds were off.

Takuya Iwanami doubled the Urawa lead 10 minutes later, meeting a corner kick at the near post and heading it into the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.

BG Pathum found their legs a bit after halftime, forcing the Urawa defense into action, but the Reds were up to the challenge.

It was the Urawa defense that created their third goal. The press pinned BG Pathum deep and forced a wayward pass that Atsuki Ito collected. Ito immediately drove forward with the ball before feeding Yoshio Koizumi, who deposited a shot just inside the post for a pinpoint finish that made it 3-0.

With the Thai side desperate for goals, there was space in behind for Urawa to counter and they took advantage with a ruthless move that eventually fed Takahiro Akimoto for a clinical finish that gave the Reds a fourth and final goal.

Urawa are already the only J.League side to win two AFC Champions League titles, having triumphed in 2007 and 2017, and now are just two wins away from an incredible third Asian championship. Such an achievement would tie them for the most of any East Region club.

In the East Region’s other quarter-final, Vissel Kobe fell to Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors of South Korea, 3-1. Koya Yuruki scored the opener for the Ushi, but Jeonbuk responded with a second-half Modou Barrow goal to take the match to extra-time. Ultimately, the Korean outfit would strike twice more in the extra 30 minutes, bringing Vissel's continental journey to a dramatic end.

Urawa will now have their turn to face Jeonbuk on Thursday in the semi-finals. The Japanese club will have the advantage of the match being played at Saitama Stadium 2002, their home ground, where an enthusiastic crowd will certainly be pushing them as they chase history.

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