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Sunday, Dec. 24, 2006

Ono-led Urawa triumphs on PKs

SAITAMA (Kyodo) Urawa Reds stayed on course for a league and cup double after beating Jubilo Iwata 10-9 on penalties in the quarterfinals of the Emperor's Cup on Saturday.

News photo
Reds forward Yuichiro Nagai, left, scores on a header over Iwata goalkeeper Yohei Sato, middle, in the 54th minute of the Emperor's Cup quarterfinals on Saturday at Saitama Stadium 2002. Urawa advanced to the semifinals by defeating Jubilo 10-9 on penalties after the game ended with a 3-3 tie. KYODO PHOTO

Shinji Ono came off the bench to score twice as holders Urawa came from 2-0 down to lead 3-2 in regulation, but defender Yusuke Inuzuka snatched an 82nd-minute equalizer for Iwata to send the game into extra time at Saitama Stadium 2002.

However, Inuzuka turned villain by missing the 20th kick of the shootout and Urawa moved into the last four, where it will meet Kashima Antlers, who came from behind to edge 2005 runnerup Shimizu S-Pulse 3-2. Second-division Consadole Sapporo sprung another surprise by beating Ventforet Kofu 2-0 and will face Gamba Osaka, 3-1 winners over Yokohama F Marinos, in the other semifinal next Friday.

Urawa was missing newly crowned J. League Player of the Year Marcus Tulio Tanaka and leading scorer Washington, and slack defending from the home side afforded Ryoichi Maeda time and space to head the visitors in front in the 32nd minute.

Hajime Hosogai blazed wastefully over as Urawa looked to hit back and went close in the 40th minute with a shot that landed on the wrong side of Yohei Sato's left-hand post.

World Cup midfielder Takashi Fukunishi appeared to have put Iwata in control when he buried a headed pass from Maeda in the 47th minute, but Yuichiro Nagai won a challenge with Sato to head home and spark the Reds' comeback eight minutes later.

Iwata then failed to clear after Robson Ponte had hammered a free-kick into the wall and Takahito Soma whipped in a cross for Ono to equalize with a rare header.

Ono looked to have completed a remarkable turnaround by lobbing in his second of the game nine minutes from time but Inuzuka pounced on a loose ball to make it 3-3 and set up extra time.

The Emperor's Cup concludes at Tokyo's National Stadium on New Year's Day.

Reds' ACL slate set

KUALA LUMPUR (Kyodo) Recently crowned J. League champion Urawa Reds will face Sydney FC, Shanghai Shenhua and Indonesia's Persik Kediri in the group stage of the 2007 Asian Champions League, the Asian Football Confederation said Friday.

Urawa Reds are in Group E, while J. League runnerup Kawasaki Frontale will play Bangkok University, Indonesia's Arema Malang and South Korea's Chunnam Dragons in Group F, according to the AFC's draw to divide 28 teams into seven groups.

The winners of each group advance to the quarterfinals on Sept. 19 and 26, along with defending champions Chonbuk Motors.

The group stage kicks off on March 7, while the semis will be held on Oct. 3 and 24, and the two-legged final on Nov. 7 and 14.

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