Shanghai SIPG fails to reach ACL quarters
Shanghai, May 16: Shanghai SIPG beat Kashima Antlers 2-1 at home thanks to Hulk's brace in the second leg, but failed to reach the quarter-finals of the AFC Champion League (ACL) with the total score 3-4 on aggregate (first leg 1-3).
Shanghai skipper Hulk, who missed the first leg due to injury, led the starting lineup of the home side and made a nice shot inside the box to bring hope to the host on six minutes, reports Xinhua news agency.
The Brazilian striker took advantage of a clumsy error of an opponent defender after Oscar's cross from the right with an accurate half-volley from close range.
However, the visiting side gradually controlled the rhythm after the goal and created several good chances.
Tall striker Mu Kanazaki wasted two opportunities in the 30th and 36th minutes, when his header went wide of the post before another small angle shot slipped off the far post.
After left midfielder Yuma Suzuki's threatening drive in the penalty area, Antlers levelled the score at 42 minutes from forward Doi Shoma's nice back-heel shot following Koki Anzai's low cross from the left side.
The guests could have taken the lead before the halftime whistle, only to find Endo Yasushi's well-curved shot parried by a focused keeper Yan Junling.
The hosts improved after the interval with head coach Vitor Pereira bringing on Yu Hai and striker Li Shenglong to replace Cai Huikang and Wang Shenchao. Yu's cross earned a penalty in the 79th minute and Hulk converted to make it 2-1.
Hulk missed a golden chance in the 57th minute. The hitman received a pass from Oscar, who rounded two defenders in a counter-attack, but his unmarked sharp shot from close distance inside the box was denied by an unbelievable save from the lone keeper Kwoun Suntae.
The draw of the quarter-finals of the ACL will be held on May 23, with the first legs to play from August 27 or 29 and the second leg from September 17 to 19.
ACL debutants Tianjin Quanjian of China, Kashima Antlers, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Suwon Samsung Bluewings will be pooled together in the east Asia part, while Iran's Persepolis FC and Esteghlal FC, Qatar's Al Sadd and Al Duhail will represent the west Asia pool.
According to the rules, an east Asian club can meet a west Asian side only in the final of the AFC Champions League.