Kewell leads Yokohama into Asian Champions League quarter-finals

Published February 22, 2024
YOKOHAMA: Yokohama’s Anderson Lopes (C) shoots to score from the penalty spot during the Asian Champions League round-of-16 match against Bangkok United on Wednesday.—AFP
YOKOHAMA: Yokohama’s Anderson Lopes (C) shoots to score from the penalty spot during the Asian Champions League round-of-16 match against Bangkok United on Wednesday.—AFP

YOKOHAMA: Harry Kewell led Japan’s Yoko­hama F-Mar­inos moved into the Asian Champions League quarter-finals after beating Bangkok United 1-0 on Wednesday in his first home game in charge for a 3-2 aggregate win.

Brazilian Anderson Lop­es converted a penalty in added time at the end of extra time to send Yoko­hama through to face China’s Shandong Taishan in the last eight.

Ulsan also advanced to the quarter-finals and will play fellow South Koreans Jeonbuk after beating Japan’s Ventforet Kofu 2-1 for a 5-1 aggregate win.

Former Leeds United and Liverpool forward Kewell left his job as a first-team coach at Scottish champions Celtic to take up the reins at Yokohama last month.

He follows in the footsteps of fellow Australians Ange Post­ecoglou and Kevin Muscat, who both won the J-League title during recent stints at the club.

Kewell won 58 caps for Australia, appearing at two World Cups and winning the 2005 Champions League with Liverpool.

He has never reached the same heights as a manager in lower-league Eng­lish football with Crawley Town, Notts County and Oldham.

He was sacked by fifth-tier Barnet in 2021 after failing to win in his first seven matches as manager.

But he got his career in Japan off to a winning start on a cold, wet night in Yokohama.

The two teams drew 2-2 in last week’s first leg in Thailand and the return fixture in Japan was a cagey affair.

Chances were few and far between on a bumpy pitch but Yokohama enjoyed the lion’s share of possession.

Brazilian winger Elber went close with two efforts from distance in the first half.

His compatriot Anderson Lopes went even closer in the 78th minute, only for Bangkok goalkeeper Pati­wat Khammai to tip his curling shot onto the post.

But Lopes made no mistake from the spot when Yokohama were awarded a penalty deep into injury time at the end of extra time for a Bangkok handball.

Earlier, Ulsan joined Yokohama in the quarter-finals after beating Japa­nese second-division outfit Kofu.

Kim Ji-hyun scored early in the first half and Joo Min-kyu added another goal in the final minute at Tokyo’s National Stadium.

Kazushi Mitsuhira scored a late consolation for Ventforet, who were appearing in the Cham­pions League for the first time after winning Japan’s domestic cup.

The result leaves Yoko­hama as the only Japanese side left in the competition.

Japan’s defending champions Urawa Red Diam­onds were eliminated at the group stage.

Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2024

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