Urawa Reds 0 Sydney FC 0

Sydney FC is out of the AFC Champions League despite dominating its Group E decider against J. League title holder Urawa Reds in Japan.

Sydney FC is out of the AFC Champions League despite dominating its Group E decider against J. League title holder Urawa Reds in Japan.

The inaugural Hyundai A-League champion needed to overcome Japan’s best supported team in its own backyard to make history once again, this time by becoming the first Australian side to qualify for the quarter-finals of Asia’s premier club competition.

Sydney FC started brightly, showing no signs of stage fright in front of just under 45,000 Urawa Reds supporters at Saitama Stadium where the Japanese champion had lost only one of its past 31 matches.

Against the run of play, Urawa Reds midfielder Shinji Ono missed the game’s first clear-cut opportunity in the 17th minute before Sydney FC, deploying an attack-minded 4-3-3 formation, created the best chance of the opening period ten minutes before the break.

Alex Brosque, who along with David Carney had been causing mayhem in wide positions, picked out David Zdrilic with a pinpoint cross but the Sydney FC striker, bidding to open his AFC Champions League account at the sixth time of asking, fluffed his header from five metres out to the considerable relief of Urawa Reds goalkeeper Ryota Tsuzuki.

Sydney FC had dominated the first half to such an extent that Clint Bolton did not have to pull off a save until just a few minutes before the interval. Urawa Reds playmaker Robson Ponte let fly but Bolton, who had conceded a soft goal to the Brazilian midfielder in the reverse fixture at Aussie Stadium, kept his sheet blank with an excellent reaction stop.

The second period was a similar story with Sydney FC in the ascendancy. David Carney, Mark Milligan and Ufuk Talay all went close to breaking the deadlock as Branko Culina’s team threw everything at Urawa Reds who, by this stage, had almost settled for a draw.

Time was running out when Sydney FC got the benefit of a kind refereeing decision on the edge of the Urawa Reds penalty area. Steve Corica stepped up to take the free kick but the midfielder’s shot deflected off the wall and behind for a fruitless corner kick.

Washington, free from the attention of Mark Rudan after Culina moved his captain from centre half to centre forward in his last throw of the dice, almost snatched victory for Urawa Reds in stoppage time but that would have been a travesty given that Sydney FC had enjoyed 60 percent possession and controlled the game for long spells.

Urawa Reds 0
Sydney FC 0
Date: Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Venue: Saitama Stadium, Saitama
Referee: Fareed Al-Marzouqi (United Arab Emirates)
Crowd: 44,793

Urawa Reds: 23. Ryota TSUZUKI (gk), 2. Keisuke TSUBOI, 5. Fabio NENE, 6. Nobuhisa YAMADA (captain), 8. Shinji ONO (9. Yuchiro NAGAI 85′), 10. Robson PONTE (30. Masayuki OKANO 90′), 13. Keita SUZUKI, 16. Takahito SOMA (17. Makoto HASEBE 62′), 20. Satoshi HORINOUCHI, 21. WASHINGTON, 22. Yuki ABE.

Substitutes not used: 1. Norihiro YAMAGISHI (gk), 3. Hajime HOSOGAI, 7. Tomoyuki SAKAI, 19. Hideki UCHIDATE.

Yellow cards: Washington 43′, Satoshi Horinouchi 82′.

Sydney FC: 1. Clint BOLTON (gk), 2. Iain FYFE, 4. Mark RUDAN (captain), 6. Ufuk TALAY (18. Adam CASEY 70′), 8. Ruben ZADKOVICH, 9. David ZDRILIC, 10. Steve CORICA, 11. Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 12. David CARNEY, 14. Alex BROSQUE, 16. Mark MILLIGAN.

Substitutes not used: 20. Dean BOUNZANIS (gk), 3. Nikolas TSATTALIOS, 5. Noel SPENCER, 15. Terry McFLYNN, 17. Jacob TIMPANO, 19. Luka GLAVAS.

Yellow cards: Mark Rudan 19′.