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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Grampus, Reysol advance to Asian Champions League round of 16


NAGOYA — Goals from Keiji Tamada, Jungo Fujimoto and Marcus Tulio Tanaka secured Nagoya Grampus a 3-0 victory over Central Coast Mariners and a place in the round of 16 in the Asian Champions League on Tuesday.

The win put Dragan Stojkovic's side on 10 points from six matches, securing it a top two finish in Group G alongside the K-League's Seongnam Ilhwa.

In South Korea, J.League champions Kashiwa Reysol, needing victory to qualify from Group H, produced a gutsy 2-0 win at Jeonbuk Motors as Leandro Domingues and Junya Tanaka struck in the second half.

Kashiwa went into the game third in the group but booked one of two tickets to the knockout phase in its inaugural ACL campaign.

Grampus and Reysol will join FC Tokyo, which has already qualified from Group F, in the second round. The fourth Japanese club in the competition, former Asian champions Gamba Osaka, have been eliminated in Group E.

"3-0, I think everybody in the stadium is satisfied with our result," Stojkovic said. "As you know, the schedule is very tough, very difficult so I gave some of my players rest. But I think we still made a good performance and played well."

The round of 16 is played as a single leg. Grampus will play a team from Group E on May 29. Tokyo and Kashiwa could face each other on May 30 for a spot in the quarterfinals.

Nagoya's best finish in the ACL was in 2009, when it advanced to the semifinals.

"We could have scored more goals, but I think what's important is that we achieved our goal — and that was to qualify for the next round," Stojkovic said.

"We will try our best and qualify for the (quarterfinals)," he added.

Needing just a draw to secure their passage into the knockout phase, Grampus all but had the game in the bag after the first half.

Even without Josh Kennedy, the J.League's top scorer two years running, Nagoya did not have a problem finding the net as Tamada pushed the hosts in front in the 19th minute.

Grampus won a free kick five meters outside the box and Tamada capitalized on the opportunity by curling a shot around the wall into the bottom left corner.

Fujimoto made it 2-0 in the 36th minute, when the Japan midfielder snuck behind the Central Coast defense for a one-on-one with goalkeeper Matt Ryan.

Fujimoto kept his composure, floating the ball over Ryan for Nagoya's critical second.

Mariners, who needed to win to have any chance of going through, made a valiant effort to close the gap and overtake Grampus in the second half, but former Japan No. 1 Seigo Narazaki made a couple of big stops to keep the visitors off the scoreboard.

As Central Coast became desperate for goals, Tulio headed home a third for Nagoya three minutes to time, locking up three points in the vault as the Mizuho Athletics Stadium crowd began to celebrate.

On Wednesday, Tokyo will play Ulsan Hyundai away for the top spot in their group, while Gamba will host Group E leaders Adelaide United who are already through to the second round.

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