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March 8, 2018

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Oscar rescues SIPG as Shenhua also held

SHANGHAI SIPG maintained its lead at the top of Group F in the AFC Champions League following a 2-2 draw with second-placed Ulsan Hyundai at Shanghai Stadium last night, thanks to a brace by an in-form Oscar.

The result meant that the 2017 semifinalist remains unbeaten at home in the AFC, winning 10 and drawing three of its past 13 matches in Shanghai.

Portuguese manager Vitor Pereira started with his Brazilian trio of Hulk, Oscar and Elkeson as well as Uzbek international Odil Akhmedov. The team began strongly, making a run for the opponent’s goal, including a 20th-minute shot by Oscar which hit the bar.

However, it was the K League side which opened the scoring when Austrian defender Richard Windbichler found the net with a header from a corner in the 37th.

Ulsan’s celebration lasted no longer than half a minute as Oscar replied for SIPG, his 40-yard shot cutting through Ulsan’s defense before the ball fell into the net.

In the second half, SIPG had one of its best chances in a counter attack in the 63rd, only to see Wu Lei hit the bar.

The visitors took the lead again in the 68th when Kim In-sung, who was supposed to be marked by SIPG defender Yu Hai, found the back of the net on a teammate’s left wing assist.

Three minutes later, it was Oscar again whose shot from the edge of the box curved into the top right corner of the goal, beating a fully stretched Ulsan goalie Oh Seong-hoon.

The former Chelsea star has now scored four goals in three AFC matches this year, having also completed a hat trick in SIPG’s 8-0 win over league newcomer Dalian Yifang in their Chinese Super League opener last weekend.

He Guan also found the net in the 81st but his effort was ruled out for offside.

The result kept SIPG two points clear of Ulsan at the top of Group F with seven points, before the two sides meet again in Ulsan next Tuesday.

In the other group match, Melbourne Victory drew 2-2 with Kawasaki Frontale in Japan.

In an earlier Group H match at Suwon World Cup Stadium, Shanghai Greenland Shenhua drew 1-1 with another K League side Suwon Samsung Bluewings.

With an unbeaten home record against CSL teams, Suwon took the lead one minute into the second half on defender Lee Ki-je’s free kick.

Shenhua defender Aidi Fulang Xisi was fouled on the edge of Suwon’s box in the 69th. Captain Giovanni Moreno, who came in as a substitute in the second half, did the rest from the penalty spot.

Shenhua manager Wu Jingui was forced to rotate his players for the match due to injuries. The team is now third in the group on three points after three draws.

“Our players worked hard, and it was a pity we were not able to grab three points, especially as the squad was incomplete,” Wu said after the match. “If the team can take five or six points from the rest of the group matches, we can still advance.”

Second-placed Suwon, which has four points, will travel to Shanghai next week for their second clash. The group is led by Kashima Antlers which beat Sydney FC 2-0 in Australia. The J League club has seven points.

All four Chinese teams in this year’s ACL took on four South Korean opponents over the past two days — jokingly dubbed as a clash between the CSL and the K League, which seemed to have ended evenly. Guangzhou Evergrande came from behind to beat Jeju United 5-3 at home while Tianjin Quanjian lost 3-6 at Jeonbuk Motors on Tuesday.


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