Japanese
spectators

ニュース

07.11.14

ACL 2007 F2 vs Sepahan(Iran)   

AFC Champions League 2007 F2 on 14 November 2007 19:24 Kick off in Saitama Stadium 2002

Match Result
Urawa Reds 2-0 Sepahan(Iran)

Goals:22min Nagai,71min Abe

Attendance:59,034

■Champions of Asia!
Urawa Reds won the AFC Champions League final with a 2-0 win on the night, 3-1 on aggregate, against Sepahan of Iran in front of a capacity crowd of 59,034 at Saitama Stadium Wednesday. Yuichiro Nagai put Reds ahead with a powerful shot in the 22nd minute and Yuki Abe sealed the match with a 71st minute header. Reds midfielder Robson Ponte shared the top scorer’s award with Sepahan striker Seyed Salehi, Nagai was named MVP of the tournament, and Reds also won the tournament’s Fair Play award.

“I am truly, frankly, overjoyed,” said Reds manager Holger Osieck after the game. “Both teams played superbly and not only the players but the supporters as well, who created this tremendous atmosphere. I am very grateful to them.”

Reds came into the match with a useful away goal under their belts thanks to Ponte’s goal in the first leg, but the second leg against quick, well-drilled Sepahan, who had knocked out Kawasaki Frontale in the quarter-finals, was never going to be easy. Reds were reinforced by the return of Tulio, who had missed the first match through injury, but skipper Nobuhisa Yamada was still out and Keita Suzuki again wore the captain’s armband.

Reds threatened early when Makoto Hasebe fired over the bar in only the second minute. Five minutes later, a Ponte free kick gave Tulio a free header that keeper Abbas Mohammadi barely pushed behind at full stretch for a corner. Sepahan had also come for business, with Moharram Navidkia and Emad Ridha constantly on the alert for the counter attack, ably supported on the wings by Ebrahim Lovinian and Mohsen Hamidi, but Reds’ three man back line of Keisuke Tsuboi, Satoshi Horinouchi and Tulio soaked up all the pressure.

Reds’ extra sharpness in front of goal was rewarded when a long, low pass from Ponte took a deflection and reached Nagai unmarked outside the penalty area. Nagai controlled the ball confidently and drove it in past Mohammadi from 15 metres.

Sepahan tried everything to get back into the game, sending in searching long balls, taking long throws and also winning corners, but Reds covered superbly at the back and denied the visitors all serious opportunities to test keeper Ryota Tsuzuki. On the half hour, Sepahan suffered an extra blow when striker Ridha picked up an injury and had to be substituted by Mahmoud Karimi. Nagai, Washington and Ponte were meanwhile always running dangerously in attack, and Tadaaki Hirakawa and Yuki Abe were ever ready on the wings. Washington went close five minutes before half time when he skimmed the top of the bar with a lob from near the halfway line.

Sepahan manager Luka Bonacic switched from 4-4-2 to a more aggressive 3-4-3 formation in the second half, bringing Hossein Papi on for Hamidi at half time, but again it was Washington who produced the first good shot of the half.

Reds’ second goal came just as Sepahan were piling on their maximum pressure of the game. It started innocuously enough when Mohammadi failed to control a back pass as Washington ran in, and gifted Reds a corner. Ponte’s kick drifted over everybody’s heads but was retrieved by Tulio on the far side. Tulio fed the ball to Hasebe, received it back under pressure and then curled in a telling cross to Washington. Washington tapped back to Nagai, Nagai unleashed another ferocious shot that ricocheted high off the keeper, and Abe headed home.

Reds were hardly home and dry. Just one Sepahan goal in the final twenty minutes would still have changed the whole complexion of the game, because a second could then have handed the match to the visitors on the away goals rule. Both teams were also running out of steam as the hard fought match entered its final stages. Sepahan never gave up their search for that elusive first goal but Reds were in command and also continued to create chances right to the very end.

Hideki Uchidate came on for Ponte, who had run heroically all game, with ten minutes left. Tatsuya Tanaka then replaced Nagai, and there was an especially big cheer from the crowd when veteran striker Masayuki Okano came on for Washington in time added on.

“We don’t have a lot of time to celebrate,” said Osieck after the final whistle. “Our schedule is very tight with our next game coming up against Shimizu S-Pulse on Sunday. But today is the time to celebrate. We have done something tonight that no-one in Japan has ever done before”

Reds’ triumph in the AFC Champions League also earns the club a place as Asian champions in the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan in December. Sepahan will be there, too, qualifying in the “host” position that would have gone to the J. League champions if Reds had lost in the Champions League. Reds will play the winners of the preliminary match between Sepahan and the Oceanian champions, Waitakere United. Success would then set up a mouth watering tie with AC Milan in the semi-final.

■vs Sepahan/Comments from Manager Osieck after the game
I am very happy now. Everyone who saw the game, including those who came to the stadium and also who saw it on TV, was able to see a tremendous final. Both teams showed wonderful performance today. I want to thank all the players and supporters for creating this superb atmosphere. I am really happy. Thank you very much.
We are now playing in a very tough schedule but players showed fantastic performance today and what we earned today is priceless. I will want to enjoy and have fun today. No one can grumble about that. However, from tomorrow, we will start preparing for the game against Shimizu Espulse held on Sunday. It said on the newspaper that all the other teams in J League are eager to beat Reds. We need to have good trainings so that such thing would not happen.