SIPG thumps Melbourne to top ACL group
SHANGHAI SIPG beat Melbourne Victory 4-1 at Shanghai Stadium last night to clinch its second Group F victory in the AFC Champions League.
Hulk and Wu Lei each scored a goal in the first half before Oscar contributed a brace after the break. The Australian side was given a penalty in the 67th minute following Yu Hai’s handball in the box.
SIPG’s Portuguese head coach Vitor Pereira retained the same starting line-up from last week’s 1-0 victory against Kawasaki Frontale in Japan.
A semifinalist in last year’s ACL, SIPG took the lead in the 25th. Wu’s pass into the box hit the arm of Melbourne defender Jason Geria, which led to a penalty. Hulk sent the ball into the back of the net from the spot.
Wu then scored SIPG’s second with a header from a Wang Shenchao pass in the 40th.
The hosts continued to dominate in the second half with Oscar’s shot from the top of the box cutting through Melbourne’s defense for a 3-0 advantage.
The visitors pulled one back with their penalty in the 67th. Ten minutes later, Wu fed Oscar for the former Chelsea midfielder to complete his brace and fix the score at 4-1. The Brazilian was named man of the match.
“The team did not find its pace quick enough due to the (cold and rainy) weather, but we managed to deliver,” Wu said. “We will now shift our focus to the Chinese Super League which starts in another 10 days.”
The victory kept SIPG on top of Group F with a full six points.
In another Group F match, Ulsan Hyundai of South Korea defeated J-League champion Frontale 2-1.
Ulsan went up 2-0 pouncing on Frontale errors in defense. Frontale scored with five minutes remaining but it fell to two defeats in two matches, and faces SIPG next.
In a Group E match, a late goal from Alexandre Pato earned a valuable point for Tianjin Quanjian against Kashiwa Reysol in a 1-1 draw in Chiba, Japan.
Tianjin remained unbeaten but two-time champion Jeonbuk Motors of South Korea leads the group after thrashing Kitchee in China’s Hong Kong 6-0.
SIPG’s city rival Shanghai Greenland Shenhua, meanwhile, will be looking for its first win when it takes on Sydney FC in a Group H clash at Hongkou Football Stadium this evening.
“We have been looking forward to play an AFC match at home for long,” Shenhua head coach Wu Jingui said at a pre-match press conference yesterday. “We are becoming more experienced on the Asian stage after our last (1-1) draw against Kashima Antlers in Japan.”
Shenhua failed to reach the group stage of last year’s ACL after its failure against Brisbane Roar in their one-match qualifier. Taking on another Australian team, Wu sounded upbeat. “Last year’s match taught us a lesson, and we will learn from the experience and avoid making the same mistakes. Sydney is a stronger side compared to Brisbane, but we are ready.”