Football: Urawa beat Pathum 4-0 to end Irfan and Ikhsan's Asian Champions League run

Pathum's Irfan Fandi (left) in action against Urawa's Yusuke Matsuo during their AFC Champions League match in Saitama on Aug 22, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Irfan and Ikhsan Fandi's fairytale run in the AFC Champions League with BG Pathum ended at the quarter-final stage on Monday (Aug 22), after the Thai club were beaten 4-0 by Japan's Urawa Red Diamonds.

The 2007 and 2017 AFC Champions League winners will play South Korea's Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, champions in 2006 and 2016, on Thursday for a place in the two-legged final on Feb 19 and 26. The other finalists will come from the West Region, which begins its knockout rounds in February.

The Fandi brothers had become the first Singaporean footballers to advance this deep into Asian football's top club competition after Pathum beat Hong Kong's Kitchee 4-0 in the round of 16 last Friday.

Their team had also been in impressive form earlier as they topped Group G after six games and were unbeaten against Australia's Melbourne City, South Korea's Jeonnam Dragons and Philippine side United City. They scored 11 times and conceded just twice.

But Urawa, playing at their home ground of Saitama Stadium, provided a masterclass in finishing to eliminate the 2020/21 Thai champions.

After having done well to withstand home pressure and even fashion scoring opportunities such as when Ikhsan flashed an effort wide in the first half-hour, the Rabbits were undone by David Karlsson's thunderous strike from the edge of the area in the 32nd minute.

Three minutes before the break, Takuya Iwanami peeled off Irfan to head in a corner before Yoshio Koizumi made sure of the win with a rasping left-footed shot in the 65th minute. Takahiro Akimoto added the icing on the cake seven minutes later.

Pathum will now turn their attention to reclaiming the domestic title as they kick off their league campaign with a trip to Chonburi on Aug 31.

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