Champions League semi-final teams decided

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Champions League semi-final teams were decided this week as we saw one J League and one CSL clubs progress. The sides to advance were 15th placed J League side Urawa Reds and the leaders in China Guangzhou Evergrande. 

Urawa Reds hold firm 

The first of the second legged East Asian semi-finals took place on Tuesday and this saw Urawa Reds take on Shanghai SIPG. That match saw the 2017 champions overcome SIPG on the away goal rule following a 1-1 draw at the Saitama Stadium 2002.

The 3-3 aggregate result meant that despite neither side winning over the 180 minutes the Japanese side progressed virtue of the away goal rule.

A crazy stat is in fact that Urawa Reds have played ten Champions League matches this season and have only won four. Despite this, they could be 180 minutes away from winning the title for the third time in their history.

Meanwhile, in this crazy season for the Saitama club, they have only won eight matches out of 26 on league duty. Looking at these records you would wonder how did this club get far in Asia's top competition.

For me, the answer is their defence this is a very well drilled side that is hard to break down. On league duty, this does not seem to help them though as they have not one since a 3-1 away win over Júbilo Iwata in July.

Though at times it's worked to a tee during the Champions League campaign, this was seen as they drew 0-0 in the opening Group stage match with Beijing Guoan. It was a game which saw them have 36% of the possession while they only managed one shot on goal.

Despite this brutal match, it was an important point and when they played the Beijing side at the end of the Group stage they defeated them 3-0.

Evergrande sneak through 

Up next then for the Reds and their defence will be the CSL leaders Guangzhou Evergrande. This comes as like the first match neither side managed to win over the 180 minutes. 

On this occasion Guangzhou Evergrande progress having drew 0-0 with Kashima Antlers in China they drew 1-1 in Japan. The result meant that Cannavaro's side progressed on the away goal rule. 

It was again a match when the losers could have easily have won on another day. It was observed with the J League side dominating the match before Evergrande took the lead. 

A breakthrough came on the 40-minute mark when a Huang Bowen corner found the head of Talisca. Although this was a bullet of a header it came after the keeper Kwoun Sun-Tae had flapped at the cross leaving the Brazillian an empty net to aim for. 

Antlers who for me were the better side then drew level through the impressive Serginho on 51 minutes. They could not though find the winner as they piled on the pressure, this means that Urawa Reds will face Guangzhou Evergrande over two legs next month. 

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