SAITAMA, Japan (AP) — Andres Iniesta had to watch from the sidelines as his hopes of winning a first Asian Champions League title ended when his Japanese team Vissel Kobe lost 3-1 to Jeonbuk Motors of South Korea in the quarterfinals Monday.
The 38-year-old Iniesta has been plagued by injuries and hasn’t been fit for any ACL game this season, his fifth with Kobe after joining from Barcelona in 2018.
Jeonbuk scored twice in extra time to leave the big-spending Japanese club still looking for a first international title.
Kobe went ahead through Koya Yuruki just after the hour mark but Jeonbuk equalized within two minutes when Gambian striker Modou Barrow scored.
In extra time, Brazilian striker Gustavo headed Jeonbuk ahead in the 104th minute and Moon Seon-min made sure of the win with just seconds remaining.
Jeonbuk will face Japanese opposition again in Thursday’s semifinal after Urawa Reds defeated Pathum United of Thailand 4-0.
Goals from Swedish midfielder David Moberg Karlsson and then Takuya Iwanami put Urawa in control at the break. Yoshio Koizumi and Takahiro Akimoto added goals in the second half.
The winner of the semifinal will have to wait until February to discover their final opponent as that is when the western half of the tournament, which is split into two geographic halves until the last game, completes its knockout stage.
Iniesta won four Champions League titles with Barcelona and helped Spain win the World Cup in 2010, when he scored the only goal in the final against the Netherlands.
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