Japan’s Kashiwa Reysol have given themselves a mountain to climb in their Asian Champions League Quarter Final second leg. Just over two weeks ago the Chiba based club were given a 3-1 soccer schooling by Chinese behemoths Guangzhou Evergrande.
Kashiwa went behind barely five minutes into the match courtesy of an own goal from defender Suzuki. The captain was first to a well weighted free kick from Huang Bowen, but a miscalculation meant his header found the back of the Reysol net.
For the next thirty odd minutes the home team went punch for punch with Evergrande, but they were stunned by a 40th minute pearler from Paulinho (catch it on the link). The Brazilian import played his first match for Guangzhou in July, after parting ways with Tottenham Hotspur in the EPL off season. The implausible nature of the goal meant Guangzhou’s 2-nil half time buffer was buttressed by an emotional factor.
Gao Lin added his name to the score sheet in the 58th minute with his first goal of the 2015 Champions League. His was an angled header off a short corner, lobbed in by none other than Huang Bowen. The goal sent the vast contingent of away fans into raptures. Gao Lin acknowledging the away end in celebration.
Fortunately for Kashiwa there would be a postscript. Kudo’s desperate effort to get to a deflected corner giving the Sun Kings a tiny ray of hope going into the second leg.
In the other quarter final in the east zone, Japan’s Gamba Osaka travelled to Korea to face Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. The Japanese club have had an indifferent season domestically after taking out the treble in 2014.
However, Gamba’s efforts on the continental stage have been of strong contrast. In their first leg against Jeonbuk, the Kansai based club were able to eke out a nil all draw despite being on the wrong side of lopsided possession and shooting stats (55% – 45% & 12 – 6).
Despite the encouraging result, Gamba Osaka will still have to be on their guard this coming Tuesday as any draw apart from 0-0 will see Jeonbuk advance via the away goals rule. The glow green Korean outfit have been ultra consistent both domestically and in the Champions League, and it’s hard to see them being denied. [Check 1st leg highlights here]
For Australian viewers, Alex Wilkinson will likely suit up in the centre of defence with Jeonbuk. The Aussie international has been a regular starter in what has proven to be a tough environment for Australians in the past.