Ulsan: Tsuyoshi Otsuki credited his players self-belief as key to Urawa Red Diamonds’ 3-0 win over Ulsan Hyundai on Wednesday as the two-time champions booked their place in the quarter-finals of the 2019 AFC Champions League.
Urawa overcame a 2-1 first leg deficit to seal a 4-2 aggregate win over the club from Korea Republic, with Shinzo Koroki scoring twice for the Japanese side.
And with Ewerton adding a third two minutes from time, the 2007 and 2017 AFC Champions League winners advanced to the last eight of the competition for the fourth time in the club’s history after a superb display at Ulsan Munsu Football Stadium.
“After losing the first game at home it was very difficult for us, but I told the players that even though we faced a tough situation the guys had already done really well,” said Otsuki, who took over as head coach from Oswaldo Oliveira last month.
“They had been working really hard, so I told them not to be disappointed and to keep doing what they had been doing.
“We analysed how Ulsan would play and we knew there was nothing to worry about. The players reacted really well but let me say the result was so good for us.”
Round of 16 2nd Leg: Ulsan Hyundai FC v Urawa Red Diamonds
Urawa were in confident mood from the opening whistle, with Tomoaki Makino hitting the crossbar with 18 minutes on the clock, and it took Koroki until the 41st minute to score his first when he headed home Tomoya Ugajin’s cross from the right.
Koroki added the second in the 80th minute with another header, this time following a cross by Mauricio Antonio, and Ewerton swept home the third two minutes from time to cap a remarkable result by the former champions.
FULL-TIME | Ulsan Hyundai ?? 0-3 @REDSOFFICIAL ?? (Aggregate 2-4)
The diamonds are shining in Ulsan tonight. Urawa are into the quarter-finals after an extraordinary performance!#ULSvURA #ACL2019 pic.twitter.com/yhN7LgAVdy
— AFC Champions League (@TheAFCCL) June 26, 2019
“Ulsan were coming forward fast so we didn’t change much between the first and second leg because we knew they would come forward like that,” said Otsuki.
“But in the second leg they were going down a lot while we didn’t go down much at all. I said to the players before the game: whoever wins the duals will win the game and that is why we won this away game.”
Round of 16 1st Leg: Urawa Red Diamonds v Ulsan Hyundai FC
Urawa were backed by a vociferous travelling support and Otsuki paid tribute to the fans who had made the journey to Korea Republic from Japan.
“I’m very satisfied that we have made it to the next round, so we can relax a little bit,” he said. “All the players did really well in this game and I really appreciate the fans who came to Korea to back us.
“It was a very difficult game for us but last week we worked very hard and now that hard work has paid off. The fans have come to see us all the way in Korea and we really appreciate what they have done for us.”