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December 1, 2020

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Ulsan secures top spot in group as Shenhua takes late hit in ACL

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

Kim Do-hoon’s K-League runner-up fought back after going behind to an early goal from Tokyo’s Kensuke Nagai to take its 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 defense 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 Shenhua in front for the first time with 17 minutes left but Neil Kilkenny’s 86th-minute penalty earned Perth a draw. Shenhua is 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 Thailand’s 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 sealed 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 its perfect record and leave the Koreans battling for second place.

“Today’s match, before the game, I asked the players to play with a serious attitude and respect the opponents,” Beijing manager Bruno Genesio said.

“We played well and we knew we had to fight hard and score goals. Even after we conceded (late in the second half), we responded by scoring again.”

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 qualifier Persepolis from Iran, will be played in the Qatari capital on December 19.


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