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Cerezo blast into Asian quarters
Late strike propels Japanese underdogs into Asian Champs League last eight as cross-town rivals Osaka crash out.
Last Modified: 24 May 2011 13:48
Gamba were the favourites going into the clash, but were out-witted by their lowly city rivals [AFP]

A brilliant late strike by Cerezo Osaka's Daisuke Takahashi gave the Japanese debutants a 1-0 win over rivals Gamba Osaka in the Asian Champions League on Tuesday.

The result knocked out city rivals and 2008 winners Gamba after Takahashi struck two minutes from time at the Expo'70 Stadium to put the side into the last eight for the first time. 

Cerezo will be joined by South Korea's Jeonbuk who breezed to a 3-0 victory over China's Tianjin Teda courtesy of a hat trick by Brazilian midfielder Eninho.

A 10-man Foolad Sepahan of Iran also reached the quarters when they beat Bunyodkor of Uzbekistan 3-1, joining Saudi Arabia's Al Ittihad who beat Al Hilal 3-1.

Underdogs

The victory was an enormous boost to Cerezo, who have largely lived in the shadow of Gamba - the more experienced side and favourites to win at home.

Cerezo were only promoted to the J-League's top flight in 2009 but finished third in their rookie season last year.

Takahashi fired home from the right edge of the penalty area in the 88th minute, beating Tosuke Fujigawa at his near post, with the Gamba keeper anticipating a cross rather than shot.

Gamba almost snatched an equaliser just as the clock ticked over to 90 minutes, but Takashi Usami's scrambled shot hit the post.

Gamba players collapsed onto the pitch at the final whistle and the fans looked stunned at losing for only the fifth time in history to their smaller neighbours, and this time on the larger continental stage.

Results & fixtures

Tuesday 24 May

 Jeonbuk 3-0 Tianjin Teda
 Gamba 0-1 Cerezo Osaka
 Sepahan 3-1 Bunyodkor
 Al Ittihad 3-1 Al Hilal

Wednesday 25 May

 Al Sadd v Al Shabab
 Zobahan v Al Nassr
 Suwon v Nagoya Grampus
 FC Seoul v Kashima Antlers

"I didn't hesitate, because I had been determined to hit a shot," said goal hero Takahashi, adding that beating Gamba made the victory extra-sweet.

"In the past, Gamba were famous as Osaka's club, so I wanted to change the image."

Turning the tables

Brazilian coach Levir Culpi said Cerezo had "turned the tables" on Gamba as they qualified for the marathon championship's two-legged quarter-finals in September.

"It was a dramatic victory. I want to praise my players and our supporters. They had a strong will to win. That resulted in this victory," he said.

"Gamba have been working under the wing of (coach Akira) Nishino for almost 10 years and it's not easy to beat them. But my players turned the tables.

"We are determined to make history without being satisfied with today's result. We will be ready for the quarter-finals in September," Culpi added.

In South Korea, Eninho scored in the 33rd and 44th minutes and completed his hat trick in the 84th to put the 2007 champions into the lasteight.

Tianjin were without their two key imports due to suspension, with captainand central defender Marko Zoric and Argentine targetman Luciano Olguinmissing.

Defeat for Arie Haan's side ended China's participation in this year's competition.

Source:
Agencies
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