ACL: Sky Blues on top in Group H after Urawa stalemate

Sydney FC remain on top of Group H in the Asian Champions League following a hard-fought 0-0 draw with Urawa Reds at Allianz Stadium on Wednesday night.

Urawa enjoyed the better of the contest in Sydney but failed to make the most of their limited opportunities as the Sky Blues held firm in front of their home supporters.

The result ensures both Sydney FC and Urawa will progress to the Round of 16, knocking out group rivals and defending Champions Guangzhou Evergrande in the process.

Urawa won the opening group fixture between the two sides in Saitama back in February and it was the J-League outfit who again looked the most threatening in the opening exchanges in Sydney.

Reds striker Yuki Moto fashioned the first clear-cut chance for the visitors in just the 6th minute, picking up the ball in space before lashing a stinging effort over the bar from just outside the area.

The 2007 ACL winners continued to press and were unfortunate not to take the lead less than five minutes later with attacker Tadanari Lee spurning two glorious opportunities in the space of four minutes.

First, a scrappy piece of defending from the hosts saw the ball fall to Lee inside the area but the striker could only blast his shot straight into the back of Sky Blues defender Rhyan Grant.

And the 30-year-old again found space on the edge of the area shortly after but fired a disappointing effort wide of Vedran Janjetovic’s goal.

Sydney FC settled into the contest and went close to snatching an unexpected lead on the half-hour mark through Serbian Milos Dimitrijevic.

The midfielder showed quick feet to beat a host of Urawa defenders before bursting inside the area but his powerful effort was well saved by Reds keeper Shusaku Nishikawa.

Urawa continued to dictate proceedings as the contest progressed but Sydney remained largely untroubled as the visitors failed to fashion a clear cut opportunity.

But with just 12 minutes remaining,  Shinzo Kohroki should have given the Reds the lead after a lovely piece of play from Yosuke Kashiwagi.

Kashiwagi played a delicate backheel straight into the path of Kohroki but the substitute’s point blank effort was well saved by Vedran Janjetovic.

The result leaves Sydney FC on top of Group H on 10 points and guaranteed a spot in the Round of 16 with one match to play.

The Sky Blues travel to China to tackle Guangzhou Evergrande in their final group match on May 3.