Sydney FC hold to draw with Urawa at home

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Sydney FC remain top of their AFC Champions League group and will be joined in the Round of 16 by Urawa Red Diamonds after the two sides settled for a 0-0 draw at Allianz Stadium.

The result eliminates 2015 title holders Guangzhou Evergrande despite their 2-0 win over Pohang Steelers last night.

The best chance of the game fell for Shinzoh Koroki, but the substitute’s point blank strike was saved by Vedran Janjetovic on 78 minutes to ensure Sydney a point.

Urawa looked the more determined side early on as Yosuke Kashiwagi asserted his influence on the game with a couple of sublime passes.

Yuki Muto blazed over the crossbar after controlling a cross-field ball from Kashiwagi on 6 minutes.

Rhyan Grant threw himself infront of Tadanari Lee’s shot after a poor clearance from Matthew Jurman. Lee is best known to Australian fans for scoring a 109th minute winner against Australia in the 2011 Asian Cup Final.

Lee fired wide of Janjetovic’s near post moments later after a cutback from Takahiro Sekine.

Sydney grew into the game as the half wore on as Sebastian Ryall and George Blackwood got shots away.

Their best chance of the game came as Milos Dimitrijevic coasted into the penalty area, but fired straight at Japanese international Shusaku Nishikawa on 29 minutes.

The second half settled into a dour contest with both sides seemingly content to settle for a draw.

Ryall’s effort was blocked after a Brandon O’Neill delivery, before George Blackwood had a tame penalty shout denied on 60 minutes.

Slovenian international Zlatan Ljubijankic was stretchered off after falling awkwardly following an aerial duel with Jurman. The pitch will no doubt be held accountable, as it was even worse than its usual poor standard following games of Rugby League being played in rain over the weekend.

Koroki replaced Ljubijankic and should have found the net on 78 minutes. The superb Kashiwagi found the substitute with a back hell but Janjetovic did well to correctly anticipate a shot into the far corner. The rebound fell straight back to Koroki but he wasted his effort over the bar.

Matt Simon will miss Sydney’s final group game against Guangzhou after a late booking.

The result means Sydney will need to defeat Guangzhou or rely on Urawa failing to defeat Pohang Steelers to ensure top spot and avoid a Round of 16 meeting with high flying FC Seoul, who have scored 16 goals in five games.

SYDNEY FC: 1. JANJETOVIC Vedran, 2. RYALL Sebastian, 5. JURMAN Matthew, 8. DIMITRIJEVIC Milos, 11. NAUMOFF Christopher, 13. O’NEILL Brandon, 17. CARNEY David, 18. SIMON Matt, 23. GRANT Rhyan, 24. BLACKWOOD George, 25. CALVER Aaron.

SUBS: 4. ANDERSON Zac, 6. STAMBOLZIEV Robert, 9. SMELTZ Shane, 10. NINKOVIC Milos, 16. WOODCOCK Riley, 29. MULLEN, Alex, 30. BOUZANIS Anthony.

URAWA RED DIAMONDS: 1. NISHIKAWA Shusaku, 4. NASU Daisuke, 5. MAKINO Tomoaki, 6. ENDO Wataru, 7. UMESAKI Tsukasa, 9. MUTO Yuki, 10. KASHIWAGI Yosuke, 20. TADANARI Lee, 21. LJUBIJANKIC Zlatan, 22. ABE Yuki, 24. SEKINE Takahiro.

SUBS: 2. KAGA Kenichi, 13. TAKAGI Toshiyuki, 15. OTANI Koki, 16. AOKI Takuya, 17. NAGATA Mitsuru, 18. KOMAI Yoshiaki, 30. KOROKI Shinzoh.

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