Urawa Reds crashes out

Defending champions Urawa Reds crashed out of the Asian Champions League at the semi-final stage after a 3-1 loss against Gamba Osaka.

Defending champions Urawa Reds crashed out of the Asian Champions League at the semi-final stage after a 3-1 loss against Gamba Osaka.

Naohiro Takahara struck nine minutes before the break to put the Reds 1-0 up on the night and 2-1 on aggregate.

But Gamba was a different proposition in the second half and progressed to the final for the first time courtesy of goals from Satoshi Yamaguchi, Tomokazu Myojin and Yasuhito Endo.

They will face Hyundai A-League side Adelaide United in the two-legged final next month.

Such was the hosts' dominance in the first half, it was hard to imagine what was to come after the interval.

Urawa was all over its less heralded opponents, with Yosuke Fujigaya called into action to save Nobuhisa Yamada's strike from distance.

The goalkeeper was fortunate when, within a minute, he could not hold the ball under pressure from Marcus Tulio Tanaka, but Edmilson fired wide.

Takahara was causing endless problems in the Gamba defence and his 21st-minute effort was deflected wide.

There was further confusion in the Gamba defence from the ensuing corner, with Fujigaya forced to save from Satoshi Horinouchi.

The Reds took the lead nine minutes from the break and Akira Kaji was the unwitting assistant. He headed Takahara's looping ball straight back to the striker, whose low shot gave Urawa a deserved lead.

There was still time for Takahara to strike the crossbar before the break and had Gamba been 2-0 down at half-time, they could not have complained.

It was a different story in the second half, though, as Yamaguchi levelled matters six minutes after the restart.

The defender and captain ghosted through the opposing backline with a well-timed run and nodded home Endo's corner.

Gamba was every bit as dominant in the second half as Urawa were in the first and took the lead after 73 minutes from another Endo corner, Myojin's flicked header crossing the line despite Yamada's best efforts.

Just three minutes later the match was over as a contest as the Urawa defence failed to contain Endo, who slid home for a third.

Asian Champions League - Results 22-10-2008

Urawa Red Diamonds 1 Takahara 35 Gamba Osaka 3 Yamaguchi 50, Myojin 72, Endo 76