Brandon Borrello’s third minute goal has put Brisbane Roar’s AFC Champions League campaign back on track, securing a 1-0 win over Japanese powerhouse Urawa Red Diamonds at Saitama Stadium tonight.
In only his second AFC Champions League game, the 19-year-old pounced on a clever short pass from Thomas Broich to rifle in a shot between the Reds goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa and the near post.
Borrello had several other chances throughout the 90 minutes and his tireless efforts earned him the AFC Player of the Match award in the club’s first win in the continental competition.
“After the disappointment of last week’s loss to Beijing, we were determined to start this game aggressively and that’s what we did,” Borrello said.
“We wanted to show everyone back home and across Asia that we are serious about this Champions League campaign.”
Brisbane almost doubled their advantage in the 35th minute, as busy Broich intercepted a wayward throw-in from the Reds and played in Henrique – the Brazilian’s first time shot was blocked by the Urawa defence.
The home side came out firing early in the second half and Brisbane goalkeeper Jamie Young – deputising for Michael Theo, who picked up a groin strain in the 2-2 draw with Perth Glory on Saturday – made a clever save to deny Koroki Shinzo in front of goal three minutes after the restart.
The momentum swung again just minutes later as Urawa’s Nasu Daisuke was sent off for a last-man foul on Andrija Kaluderovic, the second time in a week that the Roar’s AFC Champions League opponents were reduced to ten players.
This time, however, the Brisbane side was able to make the most of the numerical advantage unlike the last-minute Match Day One loss to Beijing Guoan at Gold Coast Stadium, despite not finding the back of the net again.
Henrique was only denied by Shusaku’s wide stance on the hour mark before Kaluderovic forced a diving save from the Reds’ goalkeeper after a smart turn and powerful strike just outside the penalty area.
The Serbian striker continued to put pressure on the Japanese club’s back four, again going close three minutes from full time but unable to find a way past Shusaku. Brisbane held on to secure three important – and historic – points in the AFC Champions League.
“I’m very proud of the entire squad,” interim Head Coach Frans Thijssen said after the match.
“They did exactly what we planned to attack early and then soak up the pressure we knew would always come from Urawa. We deserved this win.”
The squad will travel back to Brisbane, arriving on Friday, and will train once before facing 2014 Hyundai A-League Grand Final opponents Western Sydney Wanderers at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday. Kick-off is at 4pm.
Urawa Red Diamonds 0
Brisbane Roar 1 (Brandon BORRELLO 3’)
AFC Champions League Group G Matchday 2
Wednesday, 4 March at Saitama Stadium, Japan
Referee: Tantashev Ilgiz (Uzbekistan)
Urawa Red Diamonds: 1. SHUSAKU Nishikawa (gk), 2. KAGA Kenichi (7. UMESAKI Tsukasa 46’), 3. UGAJIN Tomoya, 4. NASU Daisuke, 5. MAKINO Tomoaki, 8. KASHIWAGI Yosuke, 13. SUZUKI Keita (20. LEE Tadanari 83’), 21. Zlatan LJUBJANKIC (11. ISHIHARA Naoki 46’), 22. ABE Yuki (c), 30. KOROKI Shinzo, 46. MORIWAKI Ryota
Substitutes not used: 15. OTANI Koki (gk), 16. AOKI Takuya, 19. MUTO Yuki, , 33. HASHIMOTO Wataru.
Yellow cards: Nil
Red cards: 4. NASU Daisuke 51’
Brisbane Roar: 3. Shane STEFANUTTO, 9. Andrija KALUDEROVIC, 10. HENRIQUE (23. Dimitri PETRATOS 77’), 13. Jade NORTH, 17. Matt McKAY (c), 18. Luke BRATTAN, 19. Jack HINGERT, 21. Jamie YOUNG (gk), 22. Thomas BROICH, 28. Brandon BORRELLO, 33. Luke DEVERE
Substitutes not used: 1. Michael THEO (gk), 4. Adam SAROTA, 5. Corey BROWN, 8. Steven LUSTICA, 15. James DONACHIE, Shannon BRADY
Yellow cards: Jack HINGERT 31’
Red cards: Nil