Jeonbuk, Shanghai SIPG into AFC Champions League quarter-finals
Leonardo stars again for South Koreans, while Wu Lei’s stoppage time winner sees Chinese debutants advance on away goals rule
Leonardo scored twice as 2006 winner Jeonbuk Motors secured the first spot in the Asian Champions League quarter-finals with a 2-1 win over Melbourne Victory, and Wu Lei’s stoppage-time winner against FC Tokyo helped Shanghai SIPG sneak into the last eight on the away goals rule.
Trailing 2-1 from the first leg, Shanghai SIPG were the dominant side for much of the tie, but could not find a way through to break the resistance of FC Tokyo goalkeeper Yota Akimoto and his backline.
The visitors, Tokyo FC, were on the verge of advancing with the score locked at 0-0 at Shanghai Stadium until added time, when unmarked Wu swooped on Elkeson’s blocked shot and fired in from close range to give SIPG a 1-0 win and 2-2 draw on aggregate – securing the quarter-final spot courtesy of the away goal that Wu scored last week.
The 24-year-old was in the right place at the right time to fire home, send the debutants into the next round of the competition and the home fans into ecstasy in the stands.
In the other game in Jeonju World Cup Stadium, Jeonbuk advanced 3-2 on aggregate, defending frantically as Melbourne pushed for a late equaliser and another away goal that would have given the Australian club a spot in the quarter-finals.
“The players performed well in front of our fans. We gave the ball away a little too often early in the game, but that can happen,” Jeonbuk coach Choi Kang-hee said.
“The players had a strong will to get through and that was a big factor.”
Leonardo curled a free kick from an acute angle inside the far post in the 29th minute and doubled the lead with a finish from in front in the 71st.
Besart Berisha kept Melbourne’s chances alive when he tapped in Jai Ingham’s cross in the 84th, but the Australian club was unable to score the equaliser that would have allowed them to advance.
Victory coach Kevin Muscat said he was “bitterly disappointed” to miss out.
“We had our opportunities early on ... two good chances at 0-0 which would have made the game fairly different,” he said.
“In Melbourne, we should have won that game and we made this game very difficult, but I’m extremely proud of the group to get as far as we have.”