September 18, 2018 / 3:30 PM / 3 months ago

Soccer: Antlers advance to Asia's last four for first time

MACAU, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Kashima Antlers booked their place in the semi-finals of the Asian Champions League on Tuesday night, as the eight-time J-League winners brushed aside China’s Tianjin Quanjian 3-0, giving them a 5-0 victory on aggregate.

The Japanese side will be appearing in the last four of the continental club championship for the first time. They will face South Korean opposition, with Suwon Bluewings and Jeonbuk Motors facing off on Wednesday evening to complete the semi-final line-up.

Antlers went into the game holding a two-goal advantage over the Chinese Super League side from the first leg three weeks ago. By the 13th minute they had extended their lead when Serginho headed home unchallenged.

Hiroki Abe added a second 14 minutes later as he swept the ball home following good work down the right by Atsuto Uchida.

Midway through the second half Shoma Doi underlined Kashima’s dominance by curling the ball into the top corner to give Go Oiwa’s side an emphatic victory.

“We’re delighted that we have got through to the semi-finals of the Asian Champions League but our ambitions do not end there,” said Oiwa.

“The results will come with our performance, so we have to concentrate on each game.

“In the first half Tianjin played very aggressively and we were on the back foot, but we controlled the game well and scored the important first goal and the second came soon after that.

“Over the 90 minutes we played as we prepared to do and I applaud my players for doing that.”

In the western half of the draw, Iran’s Persepolis saw off Al Duhail of Qatar to advance to the semi-finals for the second year in a row, where they will meet another Qatari side, Al Sadd, after they defeated Tehran’s Esteghlal.

Trailing 1-0 from the first leg against an Al Duhail side that had won all nine of their previous Asian Champions League games this season, Branko Ivankovic’s side fell further behind when Karim Boudiaf scored for the Doha side at the Azadi Stadium.

But former Iran international defender Jalal Hosseini sparked a collapse from the Qataris when he pulled one back for Persepolis, with Sultan Al Brake’s own goal levelling the scores on aggregate two minutes before Godwin Mensha scored to give Persepolis a 3-2 aggregate win.

Esteghlal were unable to make it an all-Iran semi-final as they crashed out of the competition to a Xavi Hernandez-led Al Sadd, who held a 3-1 advantage from the first leg.

Akram Afif increased his side’s overall lead and, while goals from Rouhollah Bagheri and Morteza Tabrizi gave Esteghlal hope, Baghdad Bounedjah’s injury time goal sealed a 2-2 draw on the night and ensured Al Sadd won 5-3 on aggregate. (Reporting by Michael Church; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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