FC Seoul came back from the brink to win a dramatic penalty shoot-out yesterday as Hao Junmin’s last-minute thunderbolt also put Shandong Luneng into the AFC Champions League quarter-finals.
In a breathless night of action, Go Yo-Han struck in the dying seconds of extra time against Urawa Red Diamonds — the fourth goal of the extra periods — to force the shoot-out, which Seoul won 7-6.
Urawa’s Yoshiaki Komai was the fall guy when his stuttering run-up and shot was easily saved by Yu Sang-Hun, before Seoul’s Kim Dong-Woo stroked the decisive spot-kick.
The 2013 runners-up were seconds from elimination after Tadanari Lee scored twice in three minutes deep into extra time, before Go’s fierce shot in the 122nd minute for 3-2 on the night and 3-3 on aggregate.
It wasn’t the only action-packed last-16 second leg as Hao’s rocket with seconds left against Sydney FC locked up the scores at 3-3 on aggregate but put China’s Shandong through on away goals.
Goalkeeper Vedran Janjetovic’s late penalty save — after he also stopped a spot-kick in the first leg — seemed to have earned 10-man Sydney their first appearance in Asia’s last eight.
But with the scores at 2-1 on the night, and 3-2 on aggregate after last week’s 1-1 draw, Hao’s long-range shot swerved past Janjetovic and into the top corner, stunning the Sydney crowd.
“There’s a lot of disappointments in football and there’s a lot of happy times – this is an extremely disappointing time for the players,” an emotional Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold said afterwards.
“It took a great goal to beat us... all I can say is, these things happen in football,” he added.
Sydney got off to a dream start when Brandon O’Neill’s low free kick crept in the second minute, before Walter Montillo equalised 10 minutes later.
Sydney made a sensational start to the second period when, with less than a minute gone, Rhyan Grant blasted them 2-1 ahead from the right side of the box after being teed up by Milos Ninkovic. Janjetovic’s penalty stop from Diego Tardelli, after Zac Anderson saw red for a foul, appeared to have put Sydney through, but their joy faded when Hao’s last-minute sizzler swerved into the top corner.
In the South Korean capital, FC Seoul started with a 1-0 deficit from last week’s first leg but they levelled the tie when Dejan Damjanovic capitalised on a defensive howler on 29 minutes.
Both sides had their chances but it wasn’t until extra time that the strikers made their mark, as Seoul’s Brazilian forward Adriano plundered his 11th goal of the campaign in the 94th minute.
It looked like it would be enough – until Urawa’s Lee struck twice in three minutes, first with his head and then with a volley, to put the Japanese visitors within touching distance of the last eight.
However, two minutes into stoppage time at the end of the second extra period, Go unleashed a left-footed shot which crept past Urawa’s Shusaku Nishikawa and forced the penalty kicks.
Round of 16 (2nd leg)
*Sydney FC (AUS) 2 (O’Neill 2, Grant 46) Shandong Luneng (CHN) 2 (Montillo 12, Hao Junmin 90)
Aggregate score 3-3, Shandong win on away goals
*FC Seoul (KOR) 3 (Damjanovic 29, Adriano 94, Go Yo-Han 120+2) Urawa Red Diamonds (JPN) 2 (Lee 112, 115)
Aggregate score 3-3, FC Seoul win 7-6 on penalties
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