Beijing Guoan and Ulsan Hyundai Motors continued their relentless march in the Asian Champions League at the expense of Australian sides who suffered another day of misery yesterday.
While Beijing Guoan stormed into the last-16 phase of the tournament with a 2-0 win over Melbourne Victory in Group E, Ulsan Hyundai Motors edged past Perth Glory by a similar margin to boost their chances of qualifying from Group F.
Bruno Genesio’s Beijing Guoan have yet to drop a point, their fourth win in as many matches proving they are the team to beat in this year’s competition as they made the next stage with two matches to spare. Spaniard Jonathan Viera was Beijing’s star yesterday, scoring their first goal with a superb finish in the ninth minute and providing the assist to Zhang Yuning in the 35th for their second win over Melbourne Victory in three days.
“Overall the team had a very good performance. We controlled the game very well and scored two goals in the first half which was very important for us,” said Frenchman Genesio.
“We were also able to keep a clean sheet, but it would have been good had we scored a couple of goals more.”
Victory’s Steve Kean was struggling to cope with the result. “It’s obviously a difficult result for us, but I think we need to put the game into perspective,” he said. “There are mistakes to work on, but overall, while we are bitterly disappointed with the result, our performance showed we are making strides to get to where we want to go.”
Meanwhile, Perth Glory were struggling to deal with their fourth straight loss as Ulsan Hyundai notched their third win in four matches. Ulsan had beaten Perth 2-1 three days ago in Doha, first equalising in the 89th minute through Kim In-Sung and then netting the winner through Junior Negao four minutes later when the match was into stoppage time.
In an unusual coincidence that will haunt Perth Glory for long, it was Kim and Negao who again scored in the 87th and 89th minutes yesterday as Ulsan again clinched a late victory. “It’s deja vu time for us, unfortunately,” lamented Perth Glory coach Christian Ola, whose team are playing at this level for the first time and now stand eliminated with not a single point from four matches.
“We tried a lot during the match and showed a lot of resilience but couldn’t keep our composure until the end,” added Ola. “We kept them at bay largely so they did not have many chances, but in key moments our players failed to stay composed and we conceded twice.”
Ulsan coach Kim Du-hoon was all praise for his team although he hinted the match could have gone either way. “First of all both teams played well until the end and I would say that the Perth Glory players must be applauded too,” said Kim. “I hope those players will fight and give their best again next time.”
Elsewhere, Brazilian forward Bill scored either side of the break as Thailand’s Chiangrai United injected new life into their campaign with a shock 2-1 win over FC Seoul. Bill’s side were hammered 5-0 by the Koreans as they suffered their third straight defeat three days ago, but yesterday’s revenge win gave them their first points and a sliver of hope of making the last 16 from Group E.
There was revenge also for Tokyo FC who improved their chances of qualifying for the round of 16, beating Shanghai Shenhua 2-1. Tokyo had lost against the same side 1-0 earlier in the week but second-half goals by Leandro and Shuto Abe yesterday saw them shift Shenhua from the second spot behind Ulsan in Group F.
Tokyo suffered a blow in the 50th minute when Oliveira was stretched off following a heavy challenge from Qin Sheng.
Seven minutes after the break, Shenhua came close to taking the lead as Peng Xinli’s cushioned header set up Yu Hanchao to strike on the half-volley from outside the box, but the veteran’s shot was expertly tipped behind by Tokyo goalkeeper Go Hatano.
Leandro finally broke the deadlock for the Japanese side just after the hour mark. He collected a perfectly weighted through pass from skipper Higashi and curled it into the far corner to open the scoring.
Tokyo’s injury woes were slightly relieved as substitute Taichi Hara who had come in for the injured Oliveira latched onto a through pass and supplied a cut-back cross for Shuto Abe to slot home his side’s second of the evening and put the game beyond doubt in the 82nd minute.
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