Red Diamonds pummel Wanderers 4-0 in Champions League opener

The Urawa Red Diamonds travelled to the Western Sydney Wanderers’ home patch and taught them a lesson in football, winning the AFC Champions League Group F match 4-0 on Tuesday.

The AFC Champions League is underway and Urawa are off to the perfect start in Group F.

Having only played one competitive game this season prior to this encounter, the Red Diamonds were supposed to be unfit, sluggish and disjointed.

On the contrary, coming off a hard-fought 1-0 derby victory over Sydney FC in the A-League, the Wanderers were supposed to be match-ready, sharp and organised.

How differently the match played out.

Both teams started slowly and understandably so. The AFC Champions League is a tough environment to find form in. Losing one’s first game leaves plenty to do in order to qualify for the knock-out stages of the competition.

In an un-eventful first-half, Vedran Janjetović in the Wanderers’ goal was called on to make two saves from Shinzo Koroki and Yuki Muto.

The talented and creative Urawa midfield quartet of Tadanari Lee, Muto, Yuki Abe and Takuya Aoki did show signs of getting a grip on the game in the ten-minute period before the half-time whistle sounded.

That grip strengthened in the second half and those four players started to spread the ball around the park beautifully, forcing the Wanderers players to chase shadows at times.

Tidy build-up play from Lee saw Koroki presented with an opportunity to break the deadlock in the 56th minute and the experienced finisher was clinical in putting the Japanese outfit into the lead.

Two minutes later and the roles were reversed as Koroki turned provider and Lee turned goal-scorer.

In the 68th minute the intimidating figure of Tomoaki Makino ventured forward for a corner and poked the ball home giving Urawa a 3-0 advantage. The defending was woeful but that moment was one the burly centre-back thoroughly enjoyed.

The away side were not done just yet.

With four minutes remaining in regular time, substitute Rafael Silva created space for himself on the right-hand side of the box and powered the ball past Janjetović for a comprehensive and mightily impressive 4-0 victory.

With well over half of the possession for the game, Mihailo Petrović will surely be satisfied with his team’s performance and hopeful of a strong season in both the J-League and AFC Champions League this year.

On the contrary, Tony Popovic will be deeply concerned by his team’s inability to close-down the Urawa players and also their ineptitude in creating clear-cut opportunities.