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AFC Champions League

AFC Champions League: Yokohama F Marinos dance into semis, create history

Published at :March 13, 2024 at 11:09 PM
Modified at :March 13, 2024 at 11:09 PM
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(Courtesy : AFC Media)

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This will be Yokohama F Marinos’ maiden AFC Champions League semi-final appearance.

Ten-man Yokohama F Marinos advanced to the semi-finals of the AFC Champions League for the first time in the club’s history as Anderson Lopes’ strike earned Harry Kewell’s team a 1-0 win over Shandong Taishan on Wednesday to complete a 3-1 aggregate win.

Lopes struck in the 75th minute with Marinos having played most of the second half shorthanded following Katsuya Nagato’s sending off two minutes after the interval for a second bookable offence.

The win means Marinos will play two-time champions Ulsan Hyundai from Korea Republic next month for a place in May’s final against either Al Hilal SFC of Saudi Arabia or United Arab Emirates’ Al Ain.

The J1 League side held a narrow 2-1 lead from the first leg in Jinan last week and Nagato’s early attempt unnerved Wang Dalei as the home side made early efforts to increase their advantage.

Shandong were initially restricted to long range strikes, Peng Xinli twice firing well over the bar from outside the area either side of attempts by Yan Matheus and Anderson Lopes at the other end of the pitch.

As the half wore on, however, the visitors started to present more of a threat.

Valeri Qazaishivili forced William Popp into a save to his right before a desperate defensive header was required from Yan Matheus to prevent Cryzan from causing serious problems for the hosts. Li Yuanyi’s 35th minute shot on the turn was gathered by Popp.

Marinos’ Kouta Watanabe then hit the side-netting five minutes before the break and Shandong’s Fei Nanduo saw his free-kick deflected wide of the target as the half ended scoreless.

The second half was barely two minutes old when Marinos were reduced to 10 men, Nagato seeing his second yellow card of the game for a foul on Tong Lei deep inside Shandong territory after picking up his first booking 44 minutes into the game.

But the hosts were undeterred, with Lopes twice denied in quick succession by Wang, the second seeing the Chinese international goalkeeper push the ball wide when the Brazilian’s shot was destined for the bottom corner.

Cryzan and Qazaishvili both saw Popp save attempts from distance before Li Yuanyi shot over the bar from close range on the hour mark after the goalkeeper had blocked his initial attempt.

Marinos’ refusal to kerb their attacking instincts paid off with 15 minutes remaining when Riku Yamane flicked the ball towards Lopes and the Brazilian cracked his left-foot volley beyond a helpless Wang.

Shandong’s hopes were hit further with seven minutes remaining when referee Muhammad Nazmi Nasaruddin showed Gao Zhunyi a direct red card for a foul on Ryo Miyaichi, the Malaysian official making his decision after consulting the pitch side monitor.

Gao’s dismissal took any remaining sting from Shandong and Marinos closed out the game for a famous win.

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