Urawa Red Diamonds have booked their place in the final of the Asian Champions League with goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa proving their hero.
Nishikawa made two saves in the shootout as the Japanese side handed Jeonbuk Motors a 3-1 defeat on penalties at Saitama Stadium on Thursday.
Nishikawa denied Kim Bo-kyung and Lee Seung-gi before Ataru Esaka hit the winning penalty to take two-time champions Urawa into the final for the fourth time after the game had finished in a 2-2 draw at the end of extra time.
The J1 League club will meet the side that emerges from west Asia’s knockout rounds, which are due to be played in February.
The final will be held over two legs on a home-and-away basis on February 19 and 26, with the second game in Japan.
Urawa had taken an 11th-minute lead through Yusuke Matsuo, who finished from close range from Hiroki Sakai’s centre, with the striker gleefully tapping in.
Rather than press for a second, the Japanese club sat back and, 10 minutes after the interval, paid the price.
Referee Alireza Faghani awarded the Koreans a penalty after Ayumu Ohata had brought down Song Min-kyu in the area, with the Iranian official confirming his decision after consulting VAR.
Paik Seung-ho stepped up to score, slotting the ball under the dive of Nishikawa.
Jeonbuk goalkeeper Lee Bum-soo kept the Urawa attack at bay in a frantic finish to normal time that saw substitute Kasper Junker hit the post as the Koreans were forced to endure extra time for the third game in a row.
Han Kyo-won put Jeonbuk in front with barely four minutes remaining in extra time but Junker reacted quickest after Lee Bum-soo saved Takahiro Akimoto’s header to take the contest to a shootout.
Nishikawa then kept out both of Jeonbuk’s opening penalties and, even though Jeonbuk’s Lee saved from David Moberg Karlsson, Kim Jin-su’s miss in the next round left Esaka to score the penalty that took Urawa into the final.