‘A little bit of chaos!’ Kewell guides F.Marinos to first Champions League final after wild contest

Former Socceroo Harry Kewell says his team are now on the cusp of achieving something special after Yokohama F.Marinos booked their spot in the final of the AFC Champions League for the very first time.

On a dramatic night in Yokohama, the J1 League side eventually overcame K League 1 outfit Ulsan Hyundai 5-4 on penalties after a 3-2 victory on the night saw F.Marinos cancel out their 1-0 loss in the first leg of the tie.

Furthermore, Kewell’s side achieved their monumental feat in an extraordinary fashion given defender Takumi Kamijima was sent off in the 39th minute, meaning they had to play 90 minutes with 10 men.

“(It’s a) fantastic result tonight. I’m over the moon for the club, the fans and especially over the moon for the players because they deserved it,” said Kewell.

“We’re going to enjoy the final. You don’t get a chance to play in many finals in your career so when you do, enjoy it.

“You play the way that you’re born to play. You go out there and just enjoy it. That’s what we’ll do.”

F.Marinos raced into a three-goal lead inside thirty minutes on a what was a soggy night at Nissan Stadium before the visitors pulled one back in the 35th minute.

Kamijima was then dismissed soon after for handling the ball inside the box and while Ulsan did convert the resulting spot-kick, the home side somehow held on to their lead to ensure they gave themselves a chance heading into the shootout.

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Marinos then proceeded to produce a flawless display from the spot, converting all five of their spot-kicks as Dudu thumped home the decisive penalty after Ulsan’s Kim Min-woo had missed his side’s fifth.

“We’ve been pushed to the limit most of the times, and tonight was no exception,” said Kewell. “But if I’m reflecting on the game, for the first 35 minutes, I think you can clearly see that there was only one team that was playing football, which was outstanding.

“The chances that we were creating, the movement patterns were incredible. Ulsan, for all their work and effort, had no attack in them in that first 33-35 minutes of the game, and I was happy – we took a commanding lead.

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“Unfortunately we slipped there for a moment and they got back into it and then a little bit of chaos!”

The result means Yokohama F.Marinos will now face off against UAE side Al Ain over the course of two legs in the final after they defeated Saudi Pro League leaders Al-Hilal 5-4 on aggregate.

Furthermore, the result also means Kewell has now achieved something his Australian predecessors Ange Postecoglou and Kevin Muscat couldn’t do during their respective tenures at the club, despite being in charge for just under four months.

Muscat did guide F.Marinos to this season’s last 16 before stepping down in December.

“One thing I did say to them was that the hardest games you will ever play in your life are semi-finals,” revealed the Australian coach in his post-game press conference. “Because they will take everything from you.

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‘I think these two games have taken everything from us. We were comfortable until the moment but I said nothing is easy in this game. You are going to get pushed to a limit where I believe you can handle it and I think it showed tonight.

He continued: “I think they believe now that they can handle any type of pressure.

The first leg of the AFC Champions League final will be played at Nissan Stadium on May 11 with the second leg taking place in the UAE in late May.