Nagoya face exit after being hit for six by Saudis
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Last Updated: Thursday, October 22, 2009, 15:17
Tokyo: Japan's hopes of a third successive Asian Champions League title were left hanging by a thread after Nagoya Grampus were thumped 6-2 by Saudi side Al Ittihad.

Ittihad's home win over 10-man Nagoya in Wednesday's semi-final first leg in Jeddah leaves Nagoya with a mountain to climb in the return next Wednesday.

"It's a huge blow," Nagoya manager Dragan Stojkovic was quoted as saying by the Japanese media. "It would have been a different scoreline if we'd had 11 men."

The Serbian, who has just received a touchline ban after booting the ball into the goal from the technical area during a J-League game, kicked water bottles in anger after Nagoya defender Akira Takeuchi was sent off in the sixth-minute.

Nagoya's dismissal initially gave Nagoya a wake-up call and Australia striker Josh Kennedy headed the visitors ahead after a quarter of an hour.

But after Ahmed Hadid had restored parity, Ittihad took control with captain Mohammed Noor grabbing a hat-trick as the humidity began to sap the energy of the 10-man Nagoya side.

Ittihad, Asian Champions League winners in 2004 and 2005, will be overwhelming favourites to advance to next month's final.

South Korea's Pohang Steelers won the home leg of their semi-final 2-0 against Umm Salal of Qatar on Wednesday.

Gamba Osaka won last year's Asian Champions League with J-league rivals Urawa Reds winning in 2008.

The Asian champions qualify for FIFA's lucrative Club World Cup in December.

Bureau Report

First Published: Thursday, October 22, 2009, 15:17

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