FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2007 Match3, vsSepahan   

FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2007 Match3(Quarter-finals) on 10 December 2007 19:30 Kick off at Toyota Stadium

Match Result
Sepahan(Iran) 1-3 Urawa Reds

Goals:32min NAGAI,54min WASHINGTON,70min own goal, 80min Mahmoud Karimi(Sepahan)


Comment of the Holger OSIECK(Team-Manager)
I am very happy now. The performance of our players was brilliant throughout the game. I was able to feel the commitment of the team. We spoke to play with confidence and give the opponent pressure from the front line. I am satisfied with the 3 goals we scored. We had to play ACL and J League in a very tough schedule and time didn’t allow us to think about strategy. We had a week after the last game of J League and we were able to consider tactical changes and reconfigure the mid field. The efforts we have been making were rewarded. We are going to play against AC Milan, which is the top team in the world, in the semi-final. This is a challenge but we also want to fulfill our responsibility, which is to show good performance. It is my first time as a manager to join this tournament. The history of this tournament is still short but I am very glad that we were able to join this tournament and also win the first match. I hope the supporters felt the same way. Today’s victory is for the supporters and also the players.

TOYOTA, Aichi Prefecture–The thought of the Urawa Reds XI being on the same pitch with the likes of Kaka, Andrea Pirlo and Paolo Maldini has been a fans’ dream since the FIFA Club World Cup draw.

That dream became reality on Monday night at Toyota Stadium.

The rematch against Sepahan ended like the original as Reds swept to a convincing 3-1 victory over the Iranian club in the Club World Cup quarterfinal behind goals from Yuichiro Nagai and Washington before a crowd of more than 33,000.

A Sepahan own goal in the second half virtually sealed the win for Holger Osieck and his men, who will now face European champions AC Milan in a mouth-watering tie at International Stadium Yokohama on Thursday evening.

Mahmoud Karimi netted a late consolation for Luka Bonacic’s side, whose players had been struggling to maintain their fitness since arriving in Japan.

In a repeat of last month’s two-legged, AFC Champions League final, Nagai netted in the 32nd minute, followed by Washington in the 54th and Sepahan defender Hadi Aghily gifted the Reds in the 70th minute.

Karimi barely beat goalkeeper Ryota Tsuzuki in a one-on-one in the 80th minute, but it was too little, too late for the Iranians who had beaten Waitakere United in a playoff on Friday to set up another Reds-Sepahan showdown.

Reds did not disappoint as the first Japanese club to appear at the Club World Cup, and could not have come up with a better way of dispensing with the painful memory of losing the J.League lead on the final day of the season.

Reds appeared to have been rejuvenated, both physically and mentally, nine days after their defeat at Yokohama FC, and imposed their determination on Sepahan from kickoff to the final whistle.

The Asian champions may have gotten a break prior to the start of the match as Bonacic left out of the lineup Karimi, who scored in the first leg of the Champions League final, and Moharram Navidkia, the Croatian boss’ two key players on the attack.

Yet Reds’ performance on this night was so strong that it may not have mattered whether Navidkia and Karimi were in Sepahan’s first team or not.

The entire Reds team oozed with energy, from defender Marcus Tulio Tanaka to midfielders Takahito Soma and Makoto Hasebe, and to strikers Nagai and Washington. One could almost forget that Reds were without their injured playmaker and J.League MVP candidate, Robson Ponte.

Washington threw the first punch for Reds in the 11th minute with a wide header, and captain Keita Suzuki robbed the ball in midfield for a run to test Sepahan custodian Mohammad Savari in the 23rd minute.

Washington came up short on a couple of chances before the visitors produced their only true opportunity before halftime in the 27th minute.

Forward Kabir Bello swung and missed a cross by Emad Mohammed, who was unleashed down the right by midfielder Abdul Wahab Abuhail. The Reds defense did not make things easy for Bello by harassing him inside the box as Osieck’s side managed to keep Sepahan goalless.

Hasebe came terribly close to netting on the half-hour, when he fired over the bar from the heart of the penalty area much to his frustration. Two minutes later, however, Reds would net in open play through Nagai, the most valuable player of the AFC Champions League.

Soma shook off Sepahan’s Hadi Jafari along the inside left channel to fire a low cross to Nagai, who did not miss a beat in pushing Reds in front. There was not a great deal Savari could do as Nagai struck with his left foot from point-blank range for the first-ever goal by a Japanese player at the Club World Cup.

Down at halftime, Sepahan brought livewire Karimi off the bench for the second half in search of the equalizer. Sepahan created a deadly opportunity for Abuhail in the 47th minute, but the midfielder’s shot was deflected on to the bar by a desperate lunge from Yuki Abe.

Washington made it 2-0 for Reds in the 54th minute with a spectacular strike, one of his best ever in a Reds shirt. After the pass from Abe, the Brazilian ran through the right side of the box to the by-line and with near impossible control, somehow found the net from a very tight angle.

Sepahan backed themselves into a corner on 70 minutes, when Hadi Aghily headed into his own net while trying to clear a Nagai header. Aghily’s second own goal of the tournament gave Reds a comfortable 3-0 lead, and while Sepahan closed the gap 10 minutes later through Karimi, the Iranians would not come any closer.

The final whistle by referee Coffi Codjia after three minutes of injury time signaled the end of what was a comprehensive Reds victory in their world debut.

REDS: Tsuzuki, Tsuboi, Tulio, Nene, Hosogai, Suzuki, Abe, Hasebe (Okano 91), Soma, Washington, Nagai (Ono 73)

SEPAHAN: Savari, Aghily, Bahadorani, Bengar, Jafari (Karimi ht), Abuhail (Loveinian 78), Bello (Bayat ht), Mujiri, Mohammed, Salehi, Safi