Antlers advance to ACL semis

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MACAU — Kashima Antlers booked their place in the semifinals of the Asian Champions League Tuesday night, as the eight-time J-League winners brushed aside China's Tianjin Quanjian 3-0, giving them a 5-0 victory on aggregate.

The Japanese side will be appearing in the last four of the continental club championship for the first time. It will face South Korean opposition, with Suwon Bluewings and Jeonbuk Motors facing off on Wednesday evening to complete the semifinal line-up.

Antlers went into the game holding a two-goal advantage over the Chinese Super League side from the first leg three weeks ago. By the 13th minute they had extended their lead when Serginho headed home unchallenged.

Hiroki Abe added a second 14 minutes later as he swept the ball home following good work down the right by Atsuto Uchida.

Midway through the second half Shoma Doi underlined Kashima's dominance by curling the ball into the top corner to give Go Oiwa's side an emphatic victory.

In the western half of the draw, Iran's Persepolis saw off Al-Duhail of Qatar to advance to the semifinals for the second year in a row, where it will meet another Qatari side, Al-Sadd, after it defeated Tehran's Esteghlal.

Trailing 1-0 from the first leg against an Al-Duhail side that had won all nine of its previous Asian Champions League games this season, Branko Ivankovic's side fell further behind when Karim Boudiaf scored for the Doha side at the Azadi Stadium.

But former Iran international defender Jalal Hosseini sparked a collapse from the Qataris when he pulled one back for Persepolis, with Sultan Al-Brake's own goal leveling the scores on aggregate two minutes before Godwin Mensha scored to give Persepolis a 3-2 aggregate win.

Esteghlal was unable to make it an all-Iran semifinal as it crashed out of the competition to a Xavi Hernandez-led Al-Sadd, which held a 3-1 advantage from the first leg.

Akram Afif increased his side's overall lead and, while goals from Rouhollah Bagheri and Morteza Tabrizi gave Esteghlal hope, Baghdad Bounedjah's injury time goal sealed a 2-2 draw on the night and ensured Al-Sadd won 5-3 on aggregate. — AFP


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