Urawa Reds’ bid to defend their AFC Champions League title is alive and well after they defeated Hong Kong’s Lee Man, 3-0, in the play-off round to book their place in the group stage.
Backed by their typically terrific support at Saitama Stadium 2002, Urawa were excellent from the very first kick.
It took the Reds all of three minutes to go in front as Yoshio Koizumi found the back of the net to make an early statement that the defending Asian champions were back to win the crown again.
By the sixth minute, Urawa had doubled their lead through Shinzo Koroki and the match was all but theirs. They had claimed a two-goal lead and immediately started knocking the ball around, displaying the ability to control a big continental tie like the champions they are.
Late on, Takahiro Sekine found the back of the net to wrap up the victory for Urawa, who sent their fans home with a slew of new dates to put on their calendar this fall as they get ready for group stage play.
Urawa will stand alongside Yokohama F·Marinos, Kawasaki Frontale and Ventforet Kofu in the AFC Champions League group stage. The draw is set for Thursday and the round will be played from September 18 through December 13.