Saitama: Zlatan Ljubijankic thinks Urawa Red Diamonds conceding first in their AFC Champions League quarter-final second leg against Kawasaki Frontale was just the shock they needed to spark a sensational comeback and book their place in the semi-finals.
Elsinho put Kawasaki 1-0 up on the night and 4-1 ahead on aggregate with a 19th minute opener, but Shinzo Koroki equalised in the 35th minute before Ljubijankic headed home Reds’ second seven minutes after coming on as a 63rd-minute substitute.
That set the wheels in motion for an incredible 4-1 win on the night thanks to two further goals inside the space of two minutes from Rafael Silva and Toshiyuki Takagi, which Ljubijankic feels would not have been possible if Urawa hadn’t gone behind.
“Now if you look like that it’s certain,” he said. “You never know what would happen if they didn’t score, but if you look now maybe it was better that they scored and we could change our mind and come back – maybe it was better that way."
Reds also triumphed in the face of adversity when they overturned a 2-0 first leg defeat away to Jeju United in the Round of 16, and the 33-year-old insists he and his teammates never know when they’re beaten.
“I don’t know; we always take the more difficult way," he said.
"I’m happy we didn’t lose our belief that we could turn the tables, and we did it.
“It felt similar to the game against Jeju. You feel that energy and the supporters give you a little bit more. That’s what we needed today and we made it also with their help, we made it possible.”
The Slovenian revealed there were no magic words of advice from coach Takafumi Hori before he was sent into the fray though, with the striker’s stock in trade the obvious order of the day.
“He didn’t have to say anything; I knew what I had to do," he added
"We had to score goals and there was not much time to speak. We had spoken in training and that was enough.
"Here he just said ‘go there and score’ – I knew what I had to do.”
Photos: Lagardère Sports