Soccer-Kewell eyes success as Marinos reach Asian Champions League final

  • Football
  • Wednesday, 24 Apr 2024

Soccer Football - Asian Champions League - Semi Final - Second Leg - Yokohama F Marinos v Ulsan Hyundai - Nissan Stadium, Yokohama, Japan - April 24, 2024 Yokohama F Marinos players celebrate winning the penalty shootout to qualify for the finals REUTERS/Issei Kato

(Reuters) - Harry Kewell has set his sights on making history with Yokohama F Marinos after guiding the Japanese club to the Asian Champions League final for the first time with a dramatic penalty shoot-out win over South Korea's Ulsan Hyundai on Wednesday.

Kewell's side advanced despite playing for much of the game with 10 men, winning the shoot-out 5-4 following a 3-2 victory at Yokohama International Stadium that overturned a 1-0 deficit from the first leg in South Korea one week earlier.

Goalkeeper William Popp saved Kim Min-woo's spot kick in the fifth round of penalties to leave Eduardo to net the winner and send Marinos into the final for the first time, just four months after Kewell took over at the helm.

"I thought we were excellent," the Australian said. "I thought the first 30 to 33 minutes, until we got the sending off, we were dominating the game. They had no reply to it.

"We were missing chance after chance. We got our three goals, which were fully deserved. They got one back, which was fair enough, and then mayhem happened."

Marinos raced into a three-goal lead by the 30th minute to wipe out Ulsan's first leg advantage as two goals from Asahi Uenaka either side of Anderson Lopes' strike put the Japanese in a commanding position.

But Matheus Sales pulled one back with a header in the 35th minute before Takumi Kamijima was sent off having conceded a penalty that Darijan Bojanic converted to level the aggregate score.

Marinos went on the defensive, with Ulsan seeing two efforts ruled out by officials while Popp pushed Kelvin's shot in extra time onto his post before the hosts prevailed on penalties.

"I want to talk about the effort and the work that my players put in for over 90 minutes as 10 men, and they couldn't break us down," said Kewell.

"I just think that's a huge step forward not only for these players, but the club itself. To show that anything is possible. We'll enjoy it but we've still got to concentrate as well."

Kewell has prevailed where predecessors Ange Postecoglou and Kevin Muscat had fallen short by taking Marinos beyond the last 16 of the Asian Champions League for the first time and the former Australia international is hoping to go further still.

"From the moment I've come here everyone's really worked hard to achieve something special," he said.

"We've given ourselves a wonderful opportunity to do something special for this club."

(Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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