TOKYO (Reuters) - Urawa Red Diamonds put their domestic struggles behind them to seal their place in the semi-finals of the Asian Champions League on Tuesday evening as the two-time champions secured a 1-1 draw with Shanghai SIPG to advance on the away goals rule.
The two goals scored by Urawa in a 2-2 draw in Shanghai last month proved decisive as the tie ended in a 3-3 aggregate draw, allowing the Japanese side to secure their place in the last four for the fourth time since 2007.
Shinzo Koroki’s header gave Urawa the lead six minutes before the break. Although Wang Shenchao levelled for Shanghai from close range on the hour mark, the Chinese Super League champions were unable to find a way through for a second time.
“We came back from China after the draw and we finished things off today,” said Urawa head coach Tsuyoshi Otsuki.
“The away goals helped us a lot.”
The result stands in contrast to the club’s domestic form, with Urawa in 15th in the current J-League standings and just one place above the relegation playoff position.
They will face either defending champions Kashima Antlers or Chinese Super League side Guangzhou Evergrande in the next round, with the pair due to meet in Japan on Wednesday evening.
In the west Asian half of the draw, Xavi Hernandez guided Qatar’s Al Sadd into the semi-finals with a 3-1 win over Al Nassr from Saudi Arabia to secure a 4-3 aggregate win and set up a meeting with either Al Ittihad or Al Hilal in the last four.
Trailing 2-1 from the first leg in Riyadh, Akram Afif put Al Sadd in front 26 minutes into the game only for Abderrazak Hamdallah to level the scores on the night with a deflected free kick.
Hassan Al Haydos’ stunning strike put Al Sadd back in front as it flew into the top corner from distance and, with the game looking destined to go to extra-time, Baghdad Bounedjah converted from the penalty spot with seven minutes remaining to take Al Sadd through.
“We are happy with the victory and the performance as it was an unbelievable match,” said Xavi.
“We didn’t have a good performance in the first leg but today we achieved our goal.”
Reporting by Michael Church; Editing by Hugh Lawson