0 Min: Kashiwa Reysol are one of Japan’s two sole remaining participants in the 2012 AFC Champions League following Nagoya Grampus’ exit in the Round of 16 stage yesterday. The Sun Kings travel to the Big Crown to take on Ulsan Hyundai, unbeaten winners in Group F and the only side to defeat FC Tokyo at the group stage, running out 1-0 winners in the battle for group supremacy on Matchday Six.
Reysol, meanwhile, lost two of their three away games, their inconsistency in this competition mirroring their form in the J.League, and progress was only secured courtesy of their first win on their travels in Korea against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. Reysol will be aiming to better the record of Japanese teams meeting K-League sides at this stage of the competition. Since the Round of 16 was introduced in 2009, five of six have been won by teams from the Land of the Morning Calm.
Former Gamba and Cerezo Osaka midfielder Akihiro Ienaga, who also spent some time at Oita Trinita before his move to Spanish side RCD Mallorca, is on the bench for the Horangi. The 25-year old midfielder moved to Ulsan for the 2012 season on loan.
0 Min: Ulsan Hyundai – Kim S-G; Lee J-S, Kang M-S, Kwak T-H; Lee H, Kim S-Y, Kim Y-S, Go S-K, Juan Velez; Kim S-W, Lee K-H
Substitutes – Kim Y-K; Choi J-S, Kang J-O; Kim D-S, Park S-I, Ienaga; Maranhao
0 Min: Kashiwa Reysol – Sugeno; Kondo, Sakai, Masushima, Nasu; Otani, Leandro Domingues, Jorge Wagner, Kurisawa; Tanaka, Kudo
Substitutes – Inada; Hashimoto, Fujita; Sawa, An Y-K, Barada; Hayashi
0 Min: We’re about six minutes from kick-off at a practically empty Big Crown, a very disappointing turnout for what is deemed to be Asia’s premier club tournament. While the skies in Ulsan are overcast, temperatures of 18 degrees and light winds provide almost ideal playing conditions for football.
0 Min: The players are on the pitch, and it will be Ulsan to get this tie going. Ulsan are in blue, Reysol in their standard yellow kit.
2 Min: Lee Keun-Ho breaks down the left wing as a Tatsuya Masushima long throw is cleared, and Kim Shun-Wook turns inside Daisuke Nasu. His touch is too strong, and Reysol are able to recover.
4 Mins: Leandro Domingues bursts past three players in midfield before Kang Min-Soo brings his run to an end for a throw.
6 Mins: Wagner wins the ball on halfway from a dallying Kwak Tae-Kwi, and is free on the left. He makes the shooting angle more difficult for himself as he takes the ball to the edge of the area, and it’s an easy take for Kim Seung-Gyu.
8 Mins: Kwak Tae-Hwi takes a free kick long downfield, aiming for Kim Shin-Wook. The striker meets the ball, and under pressure from Naoya Kondo, Lee Keun-Ho lifts his effort over Sugeno but inches over the crossbar.
9 Mins: Ryoichi Kurisawa finds Junya Tanaka twenty yards from goal, who lays off to Domingues. He turns and fires a snap-shot straight at Kim Seung-Gyu.
11 Mins: A good pass from Hidekazu Otani to Tanaka sees the forward clipped, and the official blows for the offence. He may have played the advantage with Sakai loitering on the right.
12 Mins: A lovely set piece from Domingues finds Kudo, but he can’t crane his neck enough to direct his header on target.
15 Mins: Beyond the opportunity offered to Lee Keun-Ho, it’s a promising first quarter of an hour for Reysol, alert in defence and matching the Horangi in midfield. Certainly they are appear technically the better side to this point.
17 Mins: A second long free-kick from Kwak Tae-Hwi is won in the air by the home side, but Reysol clear following-up.
18 Mins: A cross from the left is delivered by Kang Min-Soo, flicked on by Kim Shin-Wook and Lee Keun-Ho is in on goal. It’s a superb save from Takanori Sugeno, who is as big as possible in the Reysol goal to stop Lee volleying home from point blank range.
20 Mins: The one deficiency Reysol suffer from is an inability to deal with a direct approach and under an aerial threat. Ulsan are attempting to exploit this as often as possible, Kim Shin-Wook winning most headers inside the Sun Kings’ penalty area.
21 Mins: Hiroki Sakai goes into the book.
22 Mins: Mid-way through the opening period, it’s Ulsan Hyundai 0 Kashiwa Reysol 0.
24 Mins: Reysol have begun to struggle after a fairly positive first 15 minutes, Leandro Domingues embarking on another mazy run but with little support and no passing options he is tackled. Lee Keun-Ho then has his shirt pulled by Naoya Kondo, a giving away a free-kick in an advantageous position for Ulsan.
25 Mins: The free-kick is bent to Kim Shin-Wook, who wins the ball easily again, but his header is safely into the arms of Takanori Sugeno.
28 Mins: Juan Velez is winning most of the possession in midfield. Otani and in particular Domingues need to make more of an impression in the tackle.
32 Mins: A cross is met by Lee Keun-Ho this time, but his flick on is gathered by Sugeno before Kim Shin-Wook can shoot.
33 Mins: Jorge Wanger is incredibly wasteful on a rare foray into the Ulsan half. He has two players in space to pass two around the Horangi’s penalty area, but finds neither. The ball is returned to him, but he then attempts a flick which fails to come off and Ulsan can bring the ball out of defence.
36 Mins: Facing away from goal and attempting to control a Lee Ho throughball on his chest, Naoya Kondo is climbing over the back of Lee Keun-Ho, and Ulsan have a free-kick just twenty yards from goal.
36 Mins: Kwak Tae-Hwi awaits, but slams his shot into the face of Hideakazu Otani in the Reysol wall, who stays down for some treatment after being poleaxed by the strike.
41 Mins: Ulsan have a further chance to take the lead. Yet another long ball out of defence causes Reysol problems. It’s missed by Kim Shin-Wook, but Sakai leaves Kim Seung-Yong unattended at the back post, and running on to the bouncing ball he powers his header over the net.
43 Mins: Lee Keun-Ho is down near halfway, crumpling under a challenge from Hidekazu Otani. The official doesn’t signal for any offence, and Keun-Ho is on his feet after a minute or so.
45 Mins: Two minutes of added time to be played at the end of a first period in which Ulsan have dominated and should be leading.
45 Mins+2: The time added on passes without incident.
HT: Ulsan Hyundai 0 Kashiwa Reysol 0
HT: Manager Nelsinho has a number of issues to resolve are Reysol to progress to the quarter-finals. Wagner, wasteful in possession, is providing little protection in midfield and to his left-back being constantly drawn into the centre of midfield and allowing Lee Keun-Ho almost free reign on the right. Reysol also show few signs of having equipped themselves adequately to deal with crosses, Kim Shin-Wook winning headers at will for his forward partner.
HT: No changes to report for either side as the players return to the field. Can Reysol find a way of neutralising Kim Shin-Wook’s aerial presence in this second period?
46 Mins: Domingues and Tanaka get the second half going.
47 Mins: Domingues crosses along the six yard box, but it’s fractionally too strong for Kudo to control and shoot.
48 Mins: CROSSBAR! Ulsan first hit the crossbar and then Sugeno makes an excellent stop on the line. Masushima can only head backwards in attempting to clear a cross, and it falls to Go Seul-Ki, who shoots across Naoya Kondo, hitting the underside of the crossbar and bouncing out. Kim Shin-Wook tries to head into the net from the rebound, but Sugeno reacts quickly to beat the ball away.
49 Mins: Wagner’s cross can’t find a Kashiwa Reysol foot to turn an excellent low delivery into the net.
51 Mins: Sakai protests at being penalised for a challenge on Lee Keun-Ho near the Reysol goalline, but it’s definitely an infringement. The official spots an offence as the free-kick is struck, and Reysol can clear.
55 Mins: GOAL! They have been threatening all match, and Kim Shin-Wook gives Ulsan Hyundai a deserved lead, but it comes as a result of quite dreadful Reysol defending. Otani misplaces a pass which Lee Keun-Ho intercepts on the edge of the Sun Kings eighteen yard box, and he floats a cross for an entirely unmarked Kim Shin-Wook to head home, Masushima and Kondo either side of the striker but neither challenging for the header.
55 Mins: Ulsan Hyundai 1 Kashiwa Reysol 0
57 Mins: With Reysol now forced onto the offensive, a swerving shot from Naoya Kondo is only inches away from the right upright from twenty yards.
59 Mins: Domingues is shown a yellow card, first penalised for some tugging of the shirt on Velez, and then shown a reaction to some words which came his way from the Ulsan midfielder.
61 Mins: So, so close to an equaliser for Reysol. Tanaka turns superbly inside the penalty area, and manages to find a cross which is just too far from Leandro Domingues’ outstretched boot four yards from goal. Reysol have been transformed since they went behind.
64 Mins: A foul on Kim Shin-Wook on forty yards allows Ulsan some breathing space. Kim wins the subsequent header, but it doesn’t bother Sugeno, bouncing well off target.
65 Mins: Junya Tanaka must score. And doesn’t. Onside in the penalty area from Domingues pass, he beats the onrushing Kim Seung-Gye, but then can’t beat Lee Jae-Seong who clears off the goalline. The scores should be level.
66 Mins: Maranhao replaces Kim Seung-Yong in the first substitution of the contest.
67 Mins: GOAL! Reysol have been the better since the goal, if certainly not the match, and he heads home a Tatsuya Masushima long throw into the right corner of the net.
67 Mins: Ulsan Hyundai 1 Kashiwa Reysol 1
69 Mins: Jorge Wagner then sees a raking effort pushes wide by Kim Seung-Gyu, the corner wasted as the referee spots some pushing in the penalty area.
70 Mins: GOAL! A body blow for Kashiwa Reysol. Naoya Kondo tries to divert Lee Ho’s low cross behind for a goal kick, but it’s rolling over the line as Sugeno dives to stop its momentum. The Reysol players are furious, and the camera angles aren’t helpful from the replays, but it looks like the ball may have crossed the line. The Sun Kings need to reply all over again.
70 Mins: Ulsan Hyundai 2 Kashiwa Reysol 1
75 Mins: An unnecessary challenge from Leandro Domingues on goalkeeper Kim under a ball he was never going to win sees the Ulsan stopper require some treatment.
76 Mins: Just under fifteen minutes left to play. Can Reysol find a second equaliser to force this game into extra-time?
77 Mins: Hidekazu Otani has played his last with Masakatsu Sawa entering the fray.
78 Mins: Junya Tanaka takes the wrong option, shooting from 20 yards straight at Kim Seung-Gyu as Sawa was free inside the penalty area.
78 Mins: Tanaka landed on Lee Ho’s ankle as returned to the turf from his shot, and he sees in a great deal of pain as he is removed from the field on a stretcher.
80 Mins: As we enter the last ten minutes, all the pressure is from Reysol. Masukawa has a long throw headed away, Wagner shooting first-time on the rebound, and deflected behind for a corner.
83 Mins: Lee Keun-Ho, who has spurned a number of chances to score, is put through one-on-one with Sugeno, and should score, but the goalkeeper claims the ball at the forward’s feet. Reysol are still in this, just.
85 Mins: Sawa should score the second for Reysol, but can’t force the ball past Kim Young-Sam who blocks. A lovely short pass from Tanaka allowed Domingues to shoot, which Kim Seung-Gyu manages to push just behind Masato Kudo following up. Sawa can’t find the finish.
88 Mins: GOAL! Game over. A pass from Go Seul-Ki is met with a lovely flick from Kim Shin-Wook, and Lee Keun-Ho is finally able to finish with a volley into the bottom left corner.
88 Mins: Ulsan Hyundai 3 Kashiwa Reysol 1
90 Mins: There will be four additional minutes to play. Three successive efforts from Reysol are all cleared away.
90 Mins+2: GOAL! Junya Tanaka thunders a strike into the top left corner from a very tight ankle, after good work from Leandro Domingues with his back to goal and a fine pass from Sawa to find the Brazilian. Some hope for the Sun Kings.
90 Mins+2: Ulsan Hyundai 3 Kashiwa Reysol 2
90 Mins+4: It’s just not enough for Reysol. Referee blows his whistle for full-time, and it’s all over at the Big Crown.
FT: Ulsan Hyundai 3 Kashiwa Reysol 2
FT: There might be some controversy over the second Ulsan goal, and there will be some debate as to whether the ball fully crossed the line, but it took Reysol to go behind before they were able to rouse themselves for this contest. Both sides spurned a number of opportunities in front of goal, but there’s little doubt as to which team deserved to win the contest on merit. Manager Nelsinho now faces the same task as that awaiting Dragan Stojkovic, finding away of lifting his team away from the bottom half of the table and then attempting to qualify for the 2013 competition.
FT: I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s coverage. You’ll find a full match report on Football Japan later today.