Urawa thrash 10-man Kawasaki to reach Asian Champions League semis
By Michael Church
HONG KONG, Sept 13 (Reuters) - Urawa Red Diamonds will face Chinese Super League side Shanghai SIPG in the Asian Champions League semi-finals after recovering to thrash Kawasaki Frontale 4-1 on Wednesday.
Urawa, title winners in 2007, won 5-4 on aggregate against fellow J-league side Frontale, who were reduced to ten men before half-time having led through Brazilian defender Elsinho.
But goals from Shinzo Koroki, Zlatan Ljubijankic, Rafael Silva and Toshiyuki Takagi saw Urawa overturn a 3-1 first-leg deficit and set up a rematch with Andre Villas-Boas' SIPG side, after the teams had met in the group phase of the competition.
SIPG won the first meeting between the teams 3-2 before the Japanese club claimed a 1-0 win in front of their own fans to help them finish top of the group.
Frontale took a two-goal lead into the second leg at Saitama Stadium and Toru Oniki's team were in control throughout the opening quarter of the game, with Elsinho's 19th minute goal giving the visitors a commanding lead.
Koroki levelled for Takafumi Hori's Urawa 10 minutes from the break, before the game was turned on its head by Shintaro Kurumaya's sending off three minutes later for dangerous play.
Despite a period of dominance from Urawa, it took until the 70th minute for the home side to take the lead thanks to Ljubijankic's header.
Two goals in a minute late in the game from Silva and Takagi sealed the win for Urawa, who advance to the semi-finals for the first time since 2008, when they lost to fellow J-League side Gamba Osaka.
Iran's Persepolis, meanwhile, will take on Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal in the semi-final in the west of the continent after the Tehran-based club saw off Al Ahli.
After a 2-2 draw in the first leg, Persepolis claimed a 3-1 win away to progress with a 5-3 aggregate victory over the club from Jeddah.
A pair of penalties in the final ten minutes from Godwin Mensha and Mehdi Taremi were enough to take Branko Ivankovic's side into the last four for the first time in the club's history. (Reporting by Michael Church; Editing by Christian Radnedge)