Ulsan secure top spot as Shenhua take late hit in Asian Champions League

By Michael Church
·2-min read
AFC Champions League - Group F - Tokyo v Ulsan Hyundai

By Michael Church

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Ulsan Hyundai booked a place in the last 16 knockout phase of the Asian Champions League as Yoon Bit-garam’s double earned the South Korean side a 2-1 win over FC Tokyo while Shanghai Shenhua’s qualification hopes suffered a late blow.

Kim Do-hoon’s K-League runners-up fought back after going behind to an early goal from Tokyo's Kensuke Nagai to take their fourth win in five games and confirm top spot in Group F with one round of matches remaining.

Nagai opened the scoring with an effort from outside the area in the first minute but Yoon levelled with a curling free kick just before the break. Then five minutes from time the midfielder wrongfooted the Tokyo defence to net the winner.

Shanghai’s clash with Perth Glory was even more dramatic as Choi Kang-hee’s side overturned a two-goal deficit in the second half before drawing 3-3 with the Australians.

Bruno Fornaroli and Carlo Armiento had given Perth the lead only for Giovanni Moreno to haul Shenhua back into the game, striking twice to level the scores.

Yu Hanchao put the Chinese side in front for the first time with 17 minutes left but Neil Kilkenny’s 86th minute penalty earned Perth a draw. Shanghai are level on seven points with FC Tokyo ahead of the last round of group matches on Thursday.

The top two teams in each group advance to the last 16.

In Group E the battle for second place remains tight after Melbourne Victory threw away a two goal lead to draw 2-2 with Chiangrai United.

Grant Brebner’s side went ahead through Jake Brimmer's penalty after eight minutes and Ben Folami doubled the lead with a deft first-time volley over goalkeeper Apirak Worawong 19 minutes later.

A goalkeeping error by Matt Acton allowed Sivakorn Tiatrakul’s free kick to sail into the net for Chiangrai two minutes after the restart and Gionata Verzura’s strike in the 82nd completed the comeback.

Beijing Guoan clinched top spot in the group as goals from Jonathan Viera, Renato Augusto and Zhang Yuning saw off FC Seoul 3-1 to maintain their perfect record and leave the Koreans battling for second place.

Fifteen teams from east Asia are playing in a biosecure bubble in Doha in an effort to complete the novel coronavirus-delayed competition.

Group matches will continue until Friday with the knockout rounds starting two days later while the final, which will feature west Asian qualifiers Persepolis from Iran, will be played in the Qatari capital on Dec. 19.

(Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Ken Ferris)