Brave SIPG knocked out of ACL on away goals

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Urawa Red Diamonds kept their quest for a record third AFC Champions League title alive on Tuesday as Tsuyoshi Otsuki's side progressed to the semi-finals of this year's competition after a 1-1 draw with Shanghai SIPG secured the club's progress to the next round on the away goals rule.

The result meant the quarter-final tie ended in a 3-3 aggregate draw and, with Urawa scoring twice in Shanghai in the first leg last month, the 2007 and 2017 champions advanced to the next round, where they will face either Kashima Antlers or Guangzhou Evergrande.

Shinzo Koroki's header took a deflection off Yan Junling six minutes before halftime to give Urawa the lead and, although Wang Shenchao levelled for Shanghai on the hour mark, it was not enough to take Vitor Pereira's side into the last four.

With Hulk suspended and Odil Ahmedov missing due to injury, SIPG lacked their usual fluency and, with Urawa only needing to protect the two goals they scored in the first leg, the Japanese team controlled much of the first half.

Fabricio's early header was narrowly wide of the Shanghai goal in a rare foray into the penalty area for either team in the first 15 minutes and the game only came to life in the final 10 minutes of the first half.

Yan made a spectacular save to deny Kazuki Nagasawa, reacting sharply to push his volley over the bar after a fine cross from Daiki Hashioka found his teammate unmarked in the penalty area. From the resulting corner, Ewerton's shot was deflected wide while Hashioka's attempt from distance soon after was just off target.

Urawa's pressure eventually told six minutes before the break when Takahiro Sekine's cross from the left curled towards the edge of the six yard box and Koroki's header eventually crossed the line, but only after hitting the crossbar and the back of Yan's outstretched hand.

SIPG – as they had been in the first leg in Shanghai – were second best throughout the first half, with only a weak attempt from Lu Wenjun to show for their efforts in the first 45 minutes.

But, as was the case at Shanghai Stadium, they lifted themselves in the second half and, by the hour mark they were back in the game when Yu Hai's cross was swept home from close range by SIPG defender Wang Shenchao.

Almost immediately Urawa were denied by the crossbar when Hashioka thumped his shot from the edge of the area past Yan, only to see it cannon back off the woodwork and Otsuki's side continued to carry a serious threat on the counter attack.

Koroki twice forced Yan into action before Hashioka headed wide while Yu Hai glanced Oscar's corner off target as SIPG struggled to create the chances needed to claim the second goal required to book their place in the semi-finals.

SIPG ultimately fell short to allow Urawa to seal a fourth appearance in the competition's semi-finals.

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