Urawa Reds reached their first Asian Champions League quarterfinals since 2008 with a gutsy 3-0 extra-time victory over Jeju United on Wednesday, but all hell broke loose after the game as tempers boiled over at Saitama Stadium.
Ryota Moriwaki's 114th-minute goal gave Urawa a 3-2, round-of-16 aggregate win to celebrate, but Jeju felt the hosts took it too far -- in particular Japan defender Tomoaki Makino.
Jeju felt the Reds man was trying to provoke them by pumping his fist in front of their bench and after the final whistle, several of their players went after Makino, who ran off the pitch to take cover. Security had to block off the stairway leading to the dressing rooms to shield Makino from the Jeju players.
A Jeju team official threw a water bottle at Urawa, and another took issues with a Japanese journalist in the mixed zone area, where the players conduct interviews.
In what should surely draw an investigation from the Asian Football Confederation after three red cards and eight yellows, Makino described the fracas as "pro wrestling." Urawa plan to file a formal protest to the AFC over Jeju's conduct.
"We were here tonight to play football, but they resorted to pro wrestling, karate, all kinds of stuff," Makino said. "I thought they were embarrassing, the way they acted. Because no matter what they do or say, it doesn't change the result and we're the ones going through."
"We won the game. We outperformed them, we got the result. They lost the game, lost in terms of performance and tried to turn it into a fight, which we managed to avoid thankfully. We ran, but if we fought back, it would have been absolutely insane."
"In all my years playing football, I've never seen an unused sub throw an elbow at someone on the pitch. It's unthinkable," Makino said, referring to Baek Dong Gyu, who was shown a straight red in the 123rd minute for elbowing Reds captain Yuki Abe.
Jeju manager Cho Sung Hwan, though, said Urawa should have conducted themselves with better "manners."
"We are disappointed we could not go through since we were the only club left from the K-League," Cho said. "But while there are manners when you lose, I think there are also manners when you win."
"Some Urawa players came over to our bench to show us up, and we responded to that."
Before the post-match chaos, Moriwaki -- who was banned two games in the J-League this month after making derogatory remarks to an opponent that some interpreted as racist -- had written himself a nice comeback script by scoring his first goal of 2017 to send Reds into the last eight of the continental championship.
After losing 2-0 in Jeju last week, Reds had to come up with at least the first two goals of the game to have any chance of joining Kawasaki Frontale in the quarterfinals.
Shinzo Koroki and Tadanari Lee netted during the first 90 minutes to send the tie into extra time.
Koroki headed in his third goal of the tournament -- his 14th in 18 games across all competitions this season -- in the 18th minute and assisted Lee for Reds' second three minutes past the half-hour.
With the two teams level on aggregate, Jeju started coming out of their own half and four minutes into the second half, Shusaku Nishikawa was called into action to keep Kim Won Il out from a set piece.
The tide turned for Urawa in the 81st minute, when Cho Yong Hyung was given his marching orders for a second yellow after laying into Koroki from behind.
Urawa failed to capitalize on the manpower advantage in normal time to invite the additional 30 minutes. Just when it looked like the game was headed for penalties, Moriwaki netted Reds' third of a long evening, tapping in a cross from Toshiyuki Takagi by the far post in the 114th minute.
Moriwaki, who was in tears after the win, said Urawa were the better side in every aspect on this night.
"I thought we were close to perfect," Moriwaki said. "In Jeju, we were naive and gave away goals but we learned from that, which is why we were able to perform the way we did today."