Big trouble in little China, disciplined Urawa defeat Guangzhou in ACL semi-final


Chinese Super League side, Guangzhou Evergranda played Japanese J-League outfit, Urawa Red Diamonds on Wednesday in the second leg of the ACL (Asian Champions League) semi-final. 

Urawa Reds went into the second leg with a 2-0 lead from the game in Japan, meaning Evergrande needed to win by three clear goals to go through.

Urawa's disciplined performance gets them into the final 

Urawa lined up in a 3-4-2-1 formation that seems to be favoured by Japanese sides, and they went about their business in a very disciplined fashion. Knowing they had those two goals in the bag from the first leg, they realised that they didn't need to attack. Urawa's positional play was quite rigid as they worked to block the space in the middle of the field.

This was obviously to stop Guangzhou from scoring goals. And it worked, but Urawa had an almighty scare when Anderson Talisca spun on the ball just outside the box, turned, moved into the box a little, then hammered a shot that cannoned back off the crossbar. Guangzhou had been all huff and puff at that point but they were unable to blow Urawa's brick house down.

The first half staggered to an end, with Urawa having some breakaway chances, but all the attacking, and play was coming from Evergrande as they knew they needed to get goals, or it was goodnight Guangzhou!

The second started in the same fashion as the first, but as the time ticked into the 50th minute, Urawa hit Guangzhou on a breakaway, the ball was hoisted down the wing, and then flung into the box, to be met with an absolute beauty of a header by Shinzo Koroki. I love a headed goal, and this one was up there with the best I have ever seen. A great leap, lovely neck power to hammer it off his noggin past the keeper. Just fantastic.

At that point, no matter what Guangzhou did, it was done and dusted because they needed to get four goals without reply, and no way was that happening. Guangzhou could have played all week and still wouldn't have scored. They plugged away at hammering the door down, but it just wasn't to be.

Urawa Red Diamonds have now eliminated three Chinese Super League sides on their path to ACL glory. In the final, they will play Saudi Arabia's Al-Hilal over a two-legged home and away final. We will be supporting Urawa, and hope they can continue to carry the can for East Asia. 

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