Yokohama F·Marinos advance to AFC Champions League semis for first time ever

Yokohama F·Marinos advance to AFC Champions League semis for first time ever

Yokohama F·Marinos are headed to the final four of the AFC Champions League for the first time in club history after defeating Shandong Taishan, 1-0, in the second leg of the quarter-finals to dispatch the Chinese club 3-1 on aggregate.

The Tricolor won the first leg of the tie in China, 2-1, thanks to goals by Anderson Lopes and Yan Matheus. That put them in excellent position heading into Wednesday’s second leg, when they had an adoring crowd behind them at Nissan Stadium.

As was the case in the first leg, Marinos were able to handle Shandong’s rabid press with ease. They passed through it, both short and long, creating several great chances in the opening 20 minutes, but they were unable to find the back of the net.

In a move that also mirrored the first leg, Shandong backed off the press because of the Tricolor’s success in breaking it and opted to spend more time on the ball to whip in crosses and earn set pieces. It served the visitors well, forcing William Popp into a couple saves, but they too couldn’t manage a goal.

The match shifted two minutes into the second half when Katsuya Nagato was a bit late to a ball and shown a harsh red card.

Down a man, Marinos put nine men behind the ball and left Anderson Lopes to helm a one-man attack. He did so with aplomb, regularly taking on multiple defenders and nearly scoring on two occasions within 10 minutes of the red card.

The Tricolor also defended well despite being down to 10, with Shandong unable to get near the goal and being forced into shots from distance.

15 minutes from time, Marinos delivered the final blow as Riku Yamane got into the attack to provide Anderson Lopes some help. He hit a gorgeous cross for the Brazilian striker, who ripped a shot on the full volley that blistered the back of the net and sent the Tricolor dancing into the semi-finals.

With a two-goal advantage, Nissan Stadium was in full voice as the time counted towards 90 minutes. When the referee finally blew the final whistle, Yokohama erupted in celebration of the club’s first trip to Asia’s final four.

Marinos will take on Ulsan Hyundai in the semi-finals, with the first leg set for April 17 in South Korea before the second leg one week later in Yokohama.