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Kawasaki Frontale’s Kengo Nakamura, center, is challenged by FC Seoul’s Koh Myong-jin, right, during their knockout stage soccer match at the AFC Champions League in Kawasaki, near Tokyo, May 7. (AP)
Late Seoul double puts brakes on Kawasaki Hiroshima eye qualification, Wanderers face elimination

TOKYO, May 7, (AFP): FC Seoul scored twice in the final minutes to snatch a 3-2 win over Kawasaki Frontale on Wednesday and stay on course for the AFC Champions League quarter-finals. Last year’s runners-up showed little flair in the first half and looked headed for defeat in the round of 16 first-leg tie when they trailed 2-1 with seven minutes left. But a Kim Chi-Woo thunderbolt levelled the game at 2-2 before Yun Il-Lok poached an impudent winner, through the legs of goalkeeper Yohei Nishibe, in the third minute of injury time. Elsewhere J-League champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima beat Western Sydney Wanderers 3-1 to leave Australia’s last remaining representatives staring at elimination. In Kawasaki, the home side pressed hard in the first half and fired in 12 shots against just two by Seoul, who looked content to defend and try their luck on the break.

Yoshito Okubo shot straight at the goalkeeper early on. From the resulting corner Sota Nakazawa had the goal at his mercy but his turn and volley sailed over the bar. Yu Kobayashi was denied from a tight angle and Kengo Nakamura was dangerous from the right, crossing once for a chance that Renato should have converted and then fizzing another across the face. Kawasaki broke Seoul’s resistance early in the second half when Okubo wriggled free on the left and crossed for Kobayashi, who despite close marking buried his header on 49 minutes. The lead was short-lived. Just two minutes later, Yun capitalised on some slack defending and delivered a low cross to the unmarked Sergio Escudero, whose shot went in off the bar.

But Cha Du-Ri’s nudge on Renato earned Kawasaki a penalty and the Brazilian coolly converted, even after his first attempt was chalked off for encroachment, to make it 2-1 with half an hour left. Kawasaki seemed odds-on for the win but were rocked by Kim’s sweetly struck equaliser which flew off his left foot and across goalkeeper Nishibe for 2-2. And well into injury time, Yun made the most of some poor defending. He ran free into the box and nutmegged the hapless Nishibe for an assured and valuable winner. In Hiroshima, the hosts also made the breakthrough shortly after half-time through Naoki Ishihara, who received a cross from Satoru Yamagishi and tucked it away side-footed. There was more to come from Ishihara when on 65 minutes he met a rebound in the box with a brilliant and instinctive chip which sailed into the Wanderers’ goal. The Sydney side pulled one back through a Tomi Juric penalty, but there was to be more pain in stoppage time when goalkeeper Ante Covic misjudged a Kosei Shibasaki cross which crept into the net.

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