Kashima advances to Quarterfinals with advantage in away goals over Hiroshima - AFC Champions League 2019
26 June 2019
The second leg of the AFC Champions League (ACL) 2019 round of 16 was played on Tuesday 25 June, as the defending champions Kashima Antlers faced Sanfrecce Hiroshima at Hiroshima. Despite losing the match 2-3, Kashima advanced through to the quarterfinals with their advantage in away goals after finishing the round with an aggregate score of 3-3.
Following their 1-0 win at home on Tuesday 18 June, Kashima made two changes to their starting line-up, as NAGO Shintaro took the left midfield position, while MACHIDA Koki was named as the left fullback. The changes were made to cover the side attacks of Hiroshima, who needed at least a 2-0 victory to advance through to the next round. The home side also made changes, as YOSHINO Kyohei filled in for INAGAKI Sho, who was suspended for the match, while ARAKI Hayatoa and SHIBASAKI Kosei were newly named to the starting line-up.
The match started off with Hiroshima’s MORISHIMA Tsukasa leading the offence from the right side, while Kashima losing their defender JEONG Seung Hyeon in the fourth minute due to injury. SEKIGAWA Ikuma was brought into the match to replace Jeong and to help Kashima build a block in front of their goal to defend against Hiroshima’s attacks. While the home side struggled to create major opportunities, Kashima captured the opening goal in the 33rd minute, when the cross delivered by Nago deflected off a Hiroshima defender, allowing DOI Shoma to convert the loose ball, giving the defending champions a 1-0 lead.
By conceding an away goal, Hiroshima now needed at least a 3-1 victory to advance. In the 42nd minute, Hiroshima’s KAWABE Hayao broke into the box and came close to scoring the equaliser, but Kashima’s NAGAKI Ryota made a sliding effort to keep the ball from crossing the goal line. The match entered halftime with Kashima leading 1-0.
The second half saw Hiroshima pushing forward to advance to their first ever ACL quarterfinals. In efforts to add more layers upfront, Hiroshima brought in PATRIC at the start of the second half and shifted their formation from a three-back to a four-back system. The change allowed the two fullbacks, SASAKI Sho and KASHIWA Yoshifumi to create chances from the flanks and the equaliser came in the 66th minute, when Patric struck a header off a cross delivered by Kashiwa. With the momentum shifting towards Hiroshima, Sasaki struck a left footed shot inside the box to give his side a 2-1 lead at the 72nd minute mark.
A pivotal play came in the 74th minute, when Doi broke away from the halfway line, making the Hiroshima goalkeeper NAKABAYASHI Hirotsugu to come outside the box and commit a foul to stop him. With this foul, Nakabayashi was shown a red card, forcing the home side to utilise their third substitution to bring in HAYASHI Takuto as the new goalkeeper.
Despite losing a player, Hiroshima created an opportunity soon afterwards, as Patric converted a cross delivered by Kashiwa to shake the net, but the goal was called back with a foul committed prior to this play. Desperately needing a goal, Hiroshima pressed up all their players, including their goalkeeper, in a corner kick earned in the 89th minute, but conversely conceded a goal from a counterattack that was initiated from this play, allowing Doi to launch a shot from distance into the open goal.
Hiroshima made their final efforts in additional time to earn a penalty kick, which was converted by Patric, but that was the end of their rally, as the match finished with a final score of 3-2. As a result, it was Kashima who advanced to the quarterfinals with an aggregate score of 3-3, where the away goal determined the winner. For Kashima, this will be their third quarterfinal appearance at the ACL.
Coaches and Players' Comments
JOFUKU Hiroshi, Coach (Sanfrecce Hiroshima)
The players gave their utmost efforts in this match and showcased their willingness to advance through to the next round. This result is hard to swallow, but in the game of football, we just have to accept this result and move on. The bitterness we are feeling right now can only be paid off at another Asian competition. In order to heighten the level of football, referees, and the overall standards in Asia, I feel like our team must be at the stage and take part in that process.
DF ARAKI Hayato (Sanfrecce Hiroshima)
This was a very disappointing result. While I was on the bench in our previous matches, I kept thinking of ways to help the team win. Although it felt like we played well in the first half, I still think that I could have stopped that first goal from happening.
MF KASHIWA Yoshifumi (Sanfrecce Hiroshima)
I felt like we’ve done everything we can, especially after losing the first leg 0-1 and conceding the opening goal at home in the second leg. Referees are part of this game, but I wanted them to make their decisions based on the entire context of the play. I told the Kashima players that I wish them all the luck.
FW PATRIC (Sanfrecce Hiroshima)
I entered the match with a strong intention to score three goals for the team. I was able to showcase my ability to score goals, and I kept fighting hard until the very end. The team played an excellent match today. We must gain confidence and implement what we learned from this match in order to win the title at the J. League.
OIWA Go, Coach (Kashima Antlers)
I am proud of our team for earning the spot into the next round. I know that there are many perspectives on how we approached this match, especially with the unexpected accident occurring early in this match. We shall analyse the match and address all the areas we need to improve on, so that we can learn and improve ourselves ahead of our next J. League match against Hiroshima and the ACL quarterfinals. After we conceded the second goal, I told my players to keep their composure and made adjustments to our positions. I feel that Doi gave everything he’s got in this match.
MF DOI Shoma (Kashima Antlers)
Knowing that the opening goal will give us a huge advantage, I am glad I was able to score that goal. I had a hunch that I can try taking a shot from there, and that sense of game intuition led me to that goal. Last year, we barely won over Shanghai SIPG, and the fact that we are winning these close battels are very important for us. Despite losing today’s match, we are the winners in aggregate, so we should be proud of this result.
MF ENDO Yasushi (Kashima Antlers)
Although we lost the match, we have earned our ticket to the next round. We must fight in behalf of Hiroshima and take back the title again. I know how disappointed Hiroshima is feeling right now, so I must take that in consideration to keep myself motivated in the proceeding rounds.
MF MISAO Kento (Kashima Antlers)
The fact that we didn’t allow any away goals while we scored two away goals earned us the victory. This was a very tough match, especially with the early injury to our starting player. The match didn’t go as we planned, but we kept fighting hard to earn ourselves the ticket to the next round. We still have many rooms for improvements, but we shall keep a positive mind and move forward.
Play-offs: Tue. 5 - Tue. 19 February 2019
Group Stage: Mon. 4 March - Wed. 22 May 2019
Round of 16: Tue. 18 June - Tue. 13 August 2019
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