Cornthwaite delivers for United

Adelaide United has qualified for an AFC Champions League semi-final by defeating the Kashima Antlers 1-0 at Hindmarsh Stadium on Wednesday.

Adelaide United has qualified for an AFC Champions League semi-final by defeating the Kashima Antlers 1-0 at Hindmarsh Stadium on Wednesday.

After the teams played out an entertaining 0-0 first half, Robbie Cornthwaite went from zero to hero by scoring the match-winning goal in the 73rd minute.

Last week the towering Red was left red-faced after conceding an own goal in Japan. But he redeemed himself by heading home a sweet Cassio cross from close range.

It was a thrilling result for Adelaide as the attacking contest could have gone either way.

The result means United, the first Australian team to play in AFC Champions League finals, will play either Iran's Saipa or FC Bunyodkor of Uzbekistan in the semi.

Adelaide United coach Aurelio Vidmar said he was happy that his team was able to bounce back after losing 3-0 to Sydney FC last weekend.

"The way we went about it was what was really pleasing, we probably could have had a couple of goals in that first half but we just didn't have the shooting boots on," Vidmar said.

"I thought it was a high quality entertaining game."

Vidmar was also full of praise for his defensive line-up led by goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic.

"Our back four throughout the whole campaign, it doesn't matter who's in there, it's been very, very good."

Kashima Antlers coach Oswaldo de Oliveira Filho said United was a worthy winner.

"We missed good opportunities but Adelaide also had good chances to score …I think we missed our chance there in Kashima," he said.

"We should have decided the situation there and then come here.

"That's why I think Adelaide deserved it. They played a game of 180 minutes, not only today."

Kashima entered the clash undermanned with midfielder Mitsuo Ogasawara and left-back Toru Araiba sidelined with injuries.

But it didn't stop them putting in a spirited performance that featured a number of shots on goal.

The 0-0 first half provided an energetic and exciting opening.

Kohrogi Shinzoh was the early aggressor and had two powerful shots on target in the space of four minutes.

Adelaide also had some equally menacing opportunities but Travis Dodd lacked composure at the crucial moment.

He was charging towards goal, after being set up by a Cassio cross, but he missed the bobbling ball only metres from the line.

Paul Agostino also failed to make the most of cross in a purple patch for the home team.

The contest then settled down with United knocking around the ball around the midfield.

At the other end the Antlers hadn't shut up shop. Closing in on half time Motoyama Masashi threaded a pass to Koroki but was denied again by Eugene Galekovic.

United made a nervous re-start to the game with some anxious and unsettling moments in the opening minutes.

That included a yellow card for Sasa Ognenovski for a tackle on Masaki and the substitution of Paul Agostino for Cristiano.

The card means Ognenovski will miss the first leg of the semi-final.

But they did settle and showed some promising signs in attack.

Their persistence was rewarded with Cornthwaite's score breaking the deadlock.

Kashima refused to give up and threatened to score the equalizer on a number of occasions.

Marquinhos found the back of the net at the 81st minute but his attempt was disallowed.

It was a nervous scramble but the tension was broken when goal keeper Sogahata Hitoshi was called for handball outside the box. United didn't score with the free kick but time had run out for the visitors.

Adelaide United 1 (Cornthwaite 73') Kashima Antlers 0 @ Hindmarsh Stadium. Crowd: 16,965