Korea duo, Tianjin into ACL last 16
SOUTH Korea’s Ulsan Hyundai FC powered into the knockout stages of the AFC Champions League yesterday with a 6-2 demolition of Melbourne Victory, which crashed out.
Ulsan will finish second in Group F behind Shanghai SIPG, which drew 1-1 at home to Kawasaki Frontale.
Junior Negrao and Mislav Orsic each scored two goals for Ulsan — which raced to a 4-0 lead — with Kenny Athiu and Kosta Barbarouses finding the net for Melbourne.
And on a great night for South Korean football, the 2016 winners Jeonbuk Motors also clinched their berth with a 2-0 Group E win at Kashiwa Reysol in Japan.
China’s Tianjin Quanjian left it late to join Jeonbuk in the last 16 from Group E with the only goal against Kitchee in Hong Kong coming in the 89th minute from French import Anthony Modeste.
Kashiwa needed Kitchee to defeat the big-spending Tianjin in the later match but the Chinese Super League side broke Japanese hearts late when Modeste nodded in from close range to knock out both Kitchee and Kashiwa.
Tianjin is two points behind the Korean side and will play Kashiwa next week while Jeonbuk faces Kitchee with those results determining who will finish top of the group.
In Shanghai, burly striker Hulk blazed a first-half penalty over the bar and fellow Brazilian Oscar was largely anonymous as the already-qualified SIPG labored to a 1-1 against Group F straggler Kawasaki.
SIPG eventually opened the scoring through Brazilian Elkeson’s 68th-minute strike but it was cancelled out six minutes later by a Kei Chinen close-range header.
The draw was still enough to assure SIPG of finishing top of the group with Ulsan guaranteed second place with one round of matches remaining next week.