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Shandong salvages a draw in Seoul

A LATE Alejandro Cichero goal gave Shandong Luneng a 1-1 draw at FC Seoul yesterday to keep the Chinese team's hopes of a place in the next stage of the Asian Champions League on track.

Although Seoul dominated the game, the Venezuelan defender headed home in the second half to cancel out a first-half goal from Seoul's Park Yong-ho.

The result keeps the Chinese Super League champions in second place after four games in Group F, three points ahead of Seoul with two games remaining. Defending Asian champions Gamba Osaka controls the group, leaving Shandong and Seoul competing for the second automatic qualifying spot.

On a chilly evening in the Korean capital, Seoul took the lead midway through the first half as defender Park headed a Kim Sung-yung corner goalward. Despite a clearing header by a Chinese defender, the ball was adjudged to have crossed the line.

A mass of orange shirts surrounded the Bangladeshi referee, but to no avail.

The Chinese champions struggled to create chances and the game as a whole struggled to find any rhythm.

Kim Sung-yung almost sealed the win for Seoul twice within two minutes after an hour. The striker's header was well-saved by Shandong goalkeeper Li Leilei and moments later, his fierce free-kick beat Li only to rebound off the crossbar.

Seoul was left to regret its missed chances. With 10 minutes remaining, Cichero headed the equalizer to give the visitors a vital and unlikely point.

Another Chinese team Tianjin Teda played out a goalless draw at home to South Korea's Pohang Steelers.

In Kawasaki, Japan, Brazilian Renatinho's 80th minute header gave Kawasaki a 2-1 win over Central Coast Mariners and control of Group H.

Juninho scored a minute into the second half to give the hosts the lead with a close range shot. Forward Matt Simon leveled in the 59th minute with a right-foot shot that beat Kawasaki goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima.

Renatinho scored the winner when he rose up to head in a cross from midfielder Hiroyuki Taniguchi with 10 minutes left in regulation.

Kawasaki leads the group with 10 points from four matches, including wins over the Central Coast.

Brazilian Vitor Junior came close in the final minute of the first half with a header off a cross from Juninho that was inches wide of the left post.

In Iran, Uzbekistani champion Bunyodkor boosted its chances with a 1-0 win over Iranian side Sepahan.

Bunyodkor took the lead in the 19th minute with a close-range header from Timur Kapadze from a corner.

Striker Shavkat Salomov should have doubled the lead in the 40th, but Sepahan goalkeeper Rahman Ahmadi smothered the ball at his feet.

In the second half, Ahmadi again kept Sepahan in the game when he stopped a Rivaldo free-kick that was heading for the top corner.

Sepahan came close to an equalizer in the 62nd, but Haji Safi Ehsan's long-range shot went just over the bar.

Bunyodkor has seven points from four matches in Group D.


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