x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Asian Champions League: Urawa Reds run over Muangthon United; Emotions high in Nanjing

Urawa Reds run past 10-man Muangthon United of Thailand for their first Asian Champions League victory since 2008, and Nanjing braces with extra police as a japanese team prepares to arrive for their ACL match.

Japan's Urawa Red Diamonds midfielder Yosuke Kashiwagi celeberates his opening goal against Thailand's Muangthong United.
Japan's Urawa Red Diamonds midfielder Yosuke Kashiwagi celeberates his opening goal against Thailand's Muangthong United.

Japan’s Urawa Reds scored three second-half goals in a 4-1 Asian Champions League Group F win over Thailand’s Muangthong United on Tuesday to register their first victory in the competition since 2008.

Yosuke Kashiwagi, right, opened the scoring for the 2007 champions in the eighth minute and Urawa got an added advantage when the Muangthong defender Piyaphon Buntao was sent off, leaving the visitors with 10 men for the last hour.

In the other Group F game, the Chinese Super League champion Guangzhou Evergrande drew 1-1 with Jeonbuk Motors of South Korea.

EMOTIONS HIGH IN NANJING AS JAPAN'S VEGALTA SENDAI ARRIVE

NANJING, China // Coach loads of police were deployed Tuesday for a Japanese football club's match at Nanjing, the scene of the worst atrocities of Japan's 1930s invasion of China, actions that still weigh heavily on ties.

Beijing and Tokyo are embroiled in a bitter dispute over islands in the East China Sea, and tensions were high on the pitch for the Champions League game between Japan's Vegalta Sendai and the home side Jiangsu Sainty.

Last season's Chinese Super League runners-up offered their players a huge bonus pool of four million yuan (Dh2.35m) if they beat the J-League team, a club official confirmed. However, the two teams played out a scoreless draw

Beyond the result, many attached huge symbolic importance to what is thought to be the first senior men's football match involving a Japanese team in Nanjing, where invading troops carried out a massacre in 1937.

"The players have privately said 'We all know the significance of facing a Japanese team at home in Nanjing'," said the jiangsu.china.com website, the online site of the local government.

The relationship between the two countries is still deeply strained by Japan's bloody wartime occupation, including the Nanjing Massacre in which 300,000 civilians and soldiers died, according to China.

Some foreign academics estimate a significantly lower death toll.

In the weeks running up to the game Chinese media reported there were plans to move it from the 60,000-seater Nanjing Olympic Sports Centre to another location in the eastern province of Jiangsu.

"I don't know why the Japanese have to come here to play football," a woman surnamed Lu said as she waited at one of Nanjing's busy train stations on the afternoon before the match. "I don't even like football, but everyone in Nanjing knows about this game."

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