Urawa crush Beijing to advance to knockout stage

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Two-time champions Urawa Red Diamonds reached the Round of 16 of the 2019 AFC Champions League with a comfortable 3-0 win at home over Beijing FC on Tuesday.

Kazuki Nagasawa, a first-half sub for the injured Yosuke Kashiwagi, ignited the Reds by scoring the opener and assisting Yuki Muto for the second before half-time. Shinzo Koroki ensured all three points with a late third for Urawa, who punched the second ticket out of Group G into the Round of 16.

With Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors having already won the group, a 0-0 draw or victory was going to send Reds back into the AFC Champions League knockout phase for the first time since 2017, when Takafumi Hori's men captured the club's second Continental crown.

Urawa suffered an early casualty when, shortly after kick-off, Kashiwagi took a hit to his right knee, collapsing in visible pain. The former Japan international tried to play on but departed the game in the 13th minute on a stretcher.

Kashiwagi's injury, however, turned out to be a blessing in disguise as the man who replaced him would have a hand in both of Urawa's first-half goals.

Nagasawa pushed the hosts in front in the 34th minute with his maiden strike of the competition, taking a pass from Muto in central traffic before turning to hit past Beijing 'keeper Zou Dehai. 

Nagasawa and Muto linked again seven minutes later, Muto finding the net this time around.

Nagasawa's run down the inside left channel pried open the Beijing defence, creating space for Muto who doubled Reds' lead with a shot off the outstretched legs of Liu Huan. 

Oswaldo Oliveira's side made the most of their two-goal cushion in the second half, largely controlling the game to frustrate the Chinese visitors who just could not come up with the one goal that could have instilled some scare into the Saitama giants.

Beijing were unlucky not to go ahead midway through the opening half when Cedric Bakambu had a couple of excellent chances in a space of a minute. But the Congolese striker was foiled on both occasions by Urawa custodian Shusaku Nishikawa, who first kept out a header and then thwarted Bakambu in a one-on-one.

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