Copy of 2024-04-24T130033Z_1046767523_UP1EK4O104U2K_RTRMADP_3_SOCCER-AFCCHAMPIONS-YOK-ULS-REPORT-1713970199324
Yokohama F Marinos players celebrate winning the penalty shootout to qualify for the finals during the Asian Champions League semi-final second leg match against Ulsan Hyundai at Nissan Stadium on Wednesday. Image Credit: Reuters

Yokohama: Harry Kewell’s Yokohama F-Marinos set up an Asian Champions League final showdown with Al Ain after beating Ulsan Hyundai 5-4 on penalties to win a pulsating semi-final on Wednesday.

Trailing 1-0 from last week’s first leg in South Korea, Yokohama scored three goals in the opening 30 minutes of the return fixture in Japan but then conceded twice and had a man sent off before half-time.

The game finished 3-3 on aggregate after extra time in constant driving rain, before goalkeeper William Popp saved from Ulsan’s Kim Min-woo in the shoot-out to hand Yokohama the advantage.

Carlos Eduardo converted the decisive spot-kick to send Yokohama, who former Liverpool and Leeds forward Kewell took over as coach at the start of the year, into their first Champions League final.

Ulsan, who had already booked their place in next year’s 32-team Club World Cup in the United States by winning the semi-final first leg, were looking for their third Champions League title.

Yokohama will host Al Ain in the first leg of the final on May 11, with the return being held in the UAE on May 25.

Al Ain beat Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal 5-4 on aggregate on Tuesday to reach the final.

Yokohama made a blistering start and took the lead in the 13th minute when a defensive mix-up between Kim Young-gwon and Hwang Seok-ho allowed Asahi Uenaka to streak through and score.

Yokohama looked capable of scoring more and it was little surprise when Anderson Lopes added a second in the 21st minute, firing home a left-foot shot from just inside the box.

Keeping up the pressure

The home side kept up the pressure and Uenaka notched his second of the game on the half-hour mark when he slipped his marker and curled a shot past goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo.

But just as it looked like turning into a rout, Ulsan hit back when Matheus Sales headed home direct from a corner in the 35th minute.

Four minutes later, Ulsan had a penalty and Yokohama were reduced to 10 men when Takumi Kamijima was red-carded for a handball as he slid in to make a tackle.

Substitute Darijan Bojanic, who had come on in the 34th minute, made no mistake from the spot.

Ulsan then hit the crossbar before the referee blew to bring a frenetic first half to a close.

Bojanic thought he had scored another goal two minutes into the second period, only for it to be chalked off after a VAR check.