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Gamba, Adelaide set for ACL final
Gamba Osaka and Adelaide United will meet in the final of the Asian Champions League.
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2008 16:24 GMT

 
Gamba Osaka overcame the intimidating atmosphere in Urawa [GALLO/GETTY]
Yasuhito Endo scored a goal and set up another as Gamba Osaka advanced to the final of the Asian Champions League with a 3-1 comeback win over defending champion Urawa Reds.

Urawa secured a 1-1 draw in the first leg two weeks ago and went ahead 2-1 on aggregate Wednesday when former Hamburg and Eintracht Frankfurt striker Naohiro Takahara scored in the first half. But Gamba took control after half time with goals from Satoshi Yamaguchi, Tomokazu Miyojin and Endo.

"The Reds played well in the first half but we took control after the break,'' said Gamba coach Akira Nishino.

"Getting a goal early in the second half allowed us to change the pace of the game.''

Gamba will face Australia's Adelaide United in the home-and-away finals series.

Adelaide advanced 3-1 on aggregate despite a 1-0 loss to Uzbekistan's Bunyodkor in Wednesday's later semifinal.

Takahara opens the scoring

At Saitama, Takahara put Urawa on the scoreboard in the 36th minute when he picked up a poor clearance attempt by a Gamba defender Akira Kaji and fired a left-foot blast from close range past Gamba goalkeeper Yosuke Fujigaya.

Yamaguchi leveled the score on the night and on aggregate six minutes after the break with a header from a corner, and Miyojin scored in the 73rd minute when he deflected the ball into the net off Endo's corner.

Endo settled the matter three minutes later when he converted a pass from Lucas and beat Urawa goalkeeper Norihiro Yamagishi with an angled shot inside the area.

Nishino had high praise for Endo.

"He's got great concentration,'' said Nishino. "He somehow always gets in the right position and plays beyond our expectations.''

Urawa, which beat Sepahan of Iran in last year's final, has struggled of late and lost 3-2 to Gamba earlier in the J-League season.

Gert Engels' side lost 3-2 to lowly JEF United Chiba prior to the first leg and went down 1-0 to Vissel Kobe last weekend which left the 2006 J-League champions six points off the pace with just five games remaining.

Adelaide United players play their way into the record books [GALLO/GETTY]
Australian first

Meanwhile, Adelaide United became the first Australian club to reach the Asian Champions League finals when it progressed 3-1 on aggregate over Bunyodkor despite a 1-0 loss.

Adelaide had the best defensive record in the competition ahead of the return semifinal, conceding only three goals in nine games, and had little trouble absorbing Bunyodkor's attack in the first half.

Bunyodkor, the Uzbekistan league leader which signed Brazilian 2002 World Cup champion Rivaldo on a 12-month contract last month, had two-thirds of possession but did not have a shot on goal before half time.

Rivaldo was heavily marked and kept quiet in the first half but picked up momentum in the second, giving better direction in midfield for the hosts.

Adelaide United goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic was forced into two good saves in a minute.

He tipped Server Djesparov's quick free kick around the post in the 54th and blocked Timur Kapadze's shot from close on the right after the resulting corner.

Jasur Hasanov was causing trouble for the Adelaide defense on the left side and sending in cross after cross.

The pressure was finally converted when substitute forward Bahodir Pardaev beat Galekovic with a right-foot shot from the edge of the box in the 78th minute.

Gamba Osaka will host the first leg of the finals on November 5 with the return match at Adelaide on November 12.

A place in December's Club World Cup is at stake in the finals of Asia's premier club tournament.

Source:
Agencies
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