Japan’s Kashiwa through to AFC knock-outs

Updated 24 April 2013
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Japan’s Kashiwa through to AFC knock-outs

SINGAPORE: Japan’s Kashiwa Reysol grabbed their place in the AFC Champions League last 16 yesterday, as Michael McGlinchey lifted Australian hopes with a late winner for Central Coast Mariners against Suwon Bluewings.
A 1-1 draw with China’s Guizhou Renhe was enough for Group H table-toppers Kashiwa, who sealed their progression with a solitary point after Tatsuya Masushima’s second half strike was canceled out by Li Kai.
The Emperor’s Cup-holders become just the third team to reach next month’s knock-out phase in what is a frantic finish to the group stage with 27 clubs still in the running in the penultimate week.
Behind them Australia’s Mariners, the newly crowned A-League champions, climbed to second in Group H and dashed Suwon’s hopes after their 1-0 away win which was sealed in the 80th minute and against the run of play. Substitute McGlinchey ran onto a ball over the top of the defense and bounced in his shot off goalkeeper Jung Sung-Ryong, as Suwon were left to rue their inability to capitalize on large amounts of possession.
The hosts had gone close through Stevica Ristikj, whose close-range half-volley was saved in the first half, and North Korean striker Jong Tae-Se, who grazed a stanchion with a sizzling effort after the break.
In Kashiwa, proceedings got off to a somber start with a minute’s silence for the victims of this week’s deadly earthquake in Sichuan, which neighbors Guizhou province.
After play got under way, Masushima’s shot from a rebounding free kick put the hosts ahead on 50 minutes. But Guizhou defender Li equalized with five minutes left to put his team third, two points behind the Mariners, with one game left.
“It was tough in the first half, because we made many mistakes,” said Kashiwa’s Brazilian coach, Nelsinho. “God gave us today’s result. We also received a gift that we got past the group round.” Elsewhere Beijing Guoan kept their hopes alive in Group G with a 2-0 win over Pohang Steelers, courtesy of second-half goals from Colombian striker Joffre Guerron and former Bundesliga star Shao Jiayi.
In the same group, top team Bunyodkor of Uzbekistan failed to take their place in next month’s knock-outs when they were held to a drab 0-0 draw by already eliminated Sanfrecce Hiroshima. Among Tuesday’s West Asian games, Al Gharafa can lose to Al Ahli and still advance, as long as Sepahan fail to beat Al Nasr.

And in Group D, Esteghlal, Al Ain and Al Hilal are all capable of sealing progression before next week’s final games.
The top two teams from eight groups of four reach next month’s knock-out round, played over two legs from May 14.


Liverpool's Andrew Robertson ready for Roma Champions League test

Updated 23 April 2018
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Liverpool's Andrew Robertson ready for Roma Champions League test

  • Young Scottish star was very impressive during Liverpool's 5-1 aggregate destruction of Man City in last-eight clash.
  • Robertson refuses to take Roma lightly after their shock victory over Barcelona in the last round.

LIVERPOOL: With a desire stoked in the stands of Parkhead, Andrew Robertson is now fired up to fulfil a childhood dream.
While following the fortunes of Celtic, the defender’s first Champions League final memory was when Zinedine Zidane volleyed Real Madrid to success in 2002 as the contest was staged in Robertson’s home city of Glasgow. He was just eight years old.
While Robertson was deemed too small to play for his boyhood idols, released at 15 with a future uncertain, he has grown to prove his worth on Europe’s biggest club stage with Liverpool.
Now, with a semifinal encounter against AS Roma after beating Premier League champions Manchester City in the last eight, he wants to emulate those Reds heroes who lifted the trophy five times before.
“I was a big Celtic fan growing up and my heroes were Henrik Larsson and Co,” Robertson told Arab News ahead of tonight’s first-leg clash 
at Anfield.
“But these heroes who have won the European Cup and Champions League for Liverpool, you have to look up to them — and we want to emulate them and hopefully get a winner’s medal too.
“The club’s won it five times and the history of the club has always been this, the Champions League, where the fans create a special atmosphere and the club challenges for the trophy. It would be unbelievable to be a part of that history.
“This is the highlight for me so far and an incredible feeling, but it just makes you hungry for more. I don’t want it to end.
“As a kid, you sit back and watch how great it would be to play in this competition, let alone in the final.
“I always used to go to Celtic and we didn’t progress very far in the Champions League, but the occasions at Parkhead were always unbelievable.
“The fans at Celtic are incredible, world renowned, but Anfield was unbelievable against Man City and we have another chance for them to create that same atmosphere and hopefully we can put in another great performance.”
Having beaten Pep Guardiola’s City so convincingly, 5-1 over two gripping games, Liverpool will start favorites against Roma.
That is despite the Italians upsetting Barcelona in the previous round with an epic 3-0 win in the second leg after a 4-1 loss at the Nou Camp.
But Robertson will take nothing for granted against a Roma side who last reached the final in 1984 where they were beaten by Liverpool in a penalty shootout at their Stadio Olimpico home.
“Barca are an unbelievable team,” added the Scotland left-back, 24. “But let’s not kid ourselves. For Roma to score three goals against Barcelona, that’s special.
“They’ve been unbelievable this season too in the Champions League and deserve to be in the semifinals. It will definitely not be an easy game.
“But once you get to the semis, the fear of who you are playing has gone because you know how good the teams are.
“It’s like you look forward to the possibility of playing in the final, that’s what drives you forward. We will have fire in our bellies because we are so close to getting there.”
Jurgen Klopp’s men will no doubt be looking to Mohamed Salah to conjure more magic against the club he left in the summer for £36.9 million ($51.5 million).
But Robertson insisted Liverpool are no one-man team and the Egyptian, crowned PFA Player of the Year on Sunday night after scoring 41 goals in an unforgettable campaign, epitomizes a team united and ambitious in their quest for glory.
“He’s just unbelievable,” said Robertson of the frontman.
“In the first half (of the second leg) against Man City we struggled to get him in the game and he wasn’t quite at it. But the second half he was different class and pops up with a goal to help us win it. That’s what he does.
“His goals have been incredible and long may that continue. He’s a great guy, so humble, and for someone who has done so much this season he’s so down to Earth.
“That’s credit to our squad because we don’t let anyone get ahead of themselves.
“Mo is no different, he’s a lovely person and stands for what we are as a team.”

 

HEART OF GOLD

Five years ago Andrew Robertson was playing in the fourth tier of Scottish football with Queen’s Park and earning extra money by selling concert tickets in the corporate offices at Hampden Park.
Last summer he suffered relegation from the Premier League with Hull City before Liverpool signed him for £10 million ($13.9 million).
In a career fraught with setbacks and hardships, he has been grateful, supporting foodbanks that help those in need.
“It’s all about giving something back to the less fortunate,” said Robertson.
“I’m in a fortunate position where I do a job I love and get paid well and it’s nice to give something back, especially in my hometown. I’ll always do that.
“It’s been a great journey for me in my career, and I’ve enjoyed every minute. But I don’t forget where I came from. Maybe it is rare, but a lot more people are doing it now and I hope even more will.”