Urawa stuns Kawasaki to set up SIPG clash

Urawa Red Diamonds score three goals in a 15-minute blitz to floor Japanese rival Kawasaki Frontale 4-1  to set up an AFC Champions League semifinal against Shanghai SIPG.

Urawa Red Diamonds forward Rafael Da Silva (right) shoots to score a goal beside Kawasaki Frontale defender Eduardo during their AFC Champions League quarterfinal, second leg in Saitama on September 13, 2017.

Urawa Red Diamonds will face Chinese Super League side Shanghai SIPG in the AFC Champions League semifinals after recovering to thrash Kawasaki Frontale 4-1 on Wednesday.

Urawa, title winner in 2007, won 5-4 on aggregate against fellow J-league side Frontale, which was 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 1-3first-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 it finish top of the group.

Frontale took a two-goal lead into the second leg at Saitama Stadium and Toru Oniki's team was 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 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, which advances to the semifinals for the first time since 2008, when it lost to fellow J-League side Gamba Osaka.

Urawa, currently eighth in the J-League table, faces SIPG away on September 27 in the first leg of their semifinal.

The return fixture will be played on October 18.

Iran's Persepolis, meanwhile, will take on Saudi Arabia's al-Hilal in the semifinal 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, Saudi Arabia.

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.

Dirty tricks

On Tuesday, SIPG coach Villas-Boas accused Guangzhou Evergrande of dirty tricks after his side's epic ACL quarterfinal win, claiming the hosts masterminded a series of road "accidents" to delay his team's arrival at the stadium.

Evergrande almost pulled off a miracle in overturning a 0-4 first-leg deficit, before SIPG emerged battered and bruised from a remarkable all-Chinese encounter on Tuesday with a penalty shootout triumph after the tie had finished 5-5 on aggregate.

It was the first time that SIPG has reached the last four of Asia's premier club competition, but former Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur manager Villas-Boas was seething afterwards.

The Portuguese lashed out at Iranian referee Alireza Faghani, who sent off two SIPG players in extra time, but reserved his fiercest ire for Evergrande, a two-time ACL winner.

Video footage posted online, apparently shot from the SIPG team coach on the way to the game, appears to show a succession of five holds-ups on the road involving the same cars in the southern Chinese city.

"We came in the bus for this game. The same two cars suffered three accidents in front of us so this is a problem," Villas-Boas said after the game, pointing the finger squarely at Evergrande.

"This is the greatest achievement for SIPG ever because it looks like one club is dominating the AFC because this club can do everything. They can block hotels, cause people to have accidents in front of us."

Evergrande did not immediately comment on Villas-Boas's claims.

Some Guangzhou fans and media countered that SIPG had started the unsavory gamesmanship during the tie's first leg.

Following SIPG's 4-0 rout last month in Shanghai, Evergrande coach Luiz Felipe Scolari claimed the air conditioning in the away changing room had been broken, describing it as "like a sauna".

SIPG reportedly experienced the same at Tianhe Stadium on Tuesday, with the air conditioning not working properly and no hot water.

Villas-Boas also raged against referee Faghani, who left SIPG with just nine men on the field at the end of 120 minutes.

Faghani also booked SIPG goalkeeper Yan Junling during the penalty shootout for unsporting conduct, which will rule him out for the first leg of the semi-final.

"It's a disgrace, it's a disgrace," Villas-Boas exclaimed.

Scolari was magnanimous in defeat on Tuesday night, but could not resist hitting back about the air conditioning.

"Should we move the AC in Shanghai Stadium to Guangzhou for them to experience?" he asked.

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