Shanghai lose but China trio advance to last 16
HONG KONG: Shanghai SIPG will take on Jiangsu Suning in an allChina clash in the last 16 of the Asian Champions League later this month as all three Chinese Super League clubs secured places in the knockout rounds of the continental club championship.
Andre Villas-Boas’ Shanghai side finished second in their group behind Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds after both clubs lost their final group games on Wednesday, to Australia’s Western Sydney Wanderers and FC Seoul from South Korea respectively.
China international Wu Lei scored the third-fastest goal in the history of the competition to give Shanghai the lead over Tony Popovic’s team, but Wanderers led 2-1 by the sixth minute thanks to a rapid-fire response from Jumpei Kusukami and Steven Lustica.
Elkseon levelled the scores from the penalty spot for Shanghai but an 89th minute goal by Jaushua Sotirio gave Western Sydney a surprise win against an SIPG side missing star names Oscar and Hulk.
“A 2-2 draw would have made more sense,” said Villas-Boas. “Unfortunately, we conceded again at the end and lost the match.
“We used our players in rotation in order to manage the Chinese Super League and the Asian Champions League schedule. Now we have to play at our best when we face Jiangsu.”
Urawa, meanwhile, will meet South Korea’s Jeju United in the last 16 after their 1-0 loss against FC Seoul, while two-time champions Guangzhou Evergrande will take on J.League champions Kashima Antlers.
Guangzhou, the six-time Chinese Super League winners, finished second in their group behind Kawasaki Frontale after a 22 draw with Suwon Bluewings, with Ricardo Goulart scoring twice to ensure the Chinese side advanced to the knockout phase.
Kashima topped Group E ahead of Muangthong United thanks to a brace from Yuma Suzuki in their meeting with the Thai side, who will face off against Kawasaki in the next round.
In the west Asian half of the draw, last year’s beaten finalists Al Ain from the United Arab Emirates will take on Iran’s Esteghlal after Zoran Mamic’s team won Group C ahead of Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli thanks to a 3-0 win over Bunyodkor from Uzbekistan.
Al Ahli, coached by former Tottenham Hotspur manager Christian Gross, will meet namesakes Al Ahli of the United Arab Emirates in the last 16 as the 2015 runners-up from Dubai sealed first place in Group A with a 4-0 thrashing of Lokomotiv Tashkent.
Al Hilal, two-time winners of the Asian Club Championship, play Esteghlal Khuzestan from Iran in the next phase after the Saudi Arabian league champions topped Group D with a 4-3 win over Qatar’s Al Rayyan, while Persepolis will take on another Qatari side, Lekhwiya, who clinched Group B with a 4-1 win over Al Fateh. Reuters
Shanghai's Elkeson (left) takes a shot at the Western Sydney Wanderer’s goal in an AFC Champions League Group F match at Campbelltown Stadium in Sydney on Wednesday.