Diego Forlan ends Shandong's bid as Beijing Guoan also crash out
Former Uruguay World Cup star sends J.League side Cerezo Osaka through to round of 16 in AFC Champions League
Uruguay World Cup star Diego Forlan scored the goal that denied Chinese Super League runners-up Shandong Luneng a place in the knockout phase of the AFC Champions League as the former Manchester United forward earned Japan’s Cerezo Osaka a 2-1 win in Jinan on Wednesday night.
Shandong and Beijing Guoan both missed out on the opportunity to join defending champions Guangzhou Evergrande in the last 16 of the continental championship, with the capital club exiting at the hands of last year’s beaten finalists FC Seoul.
Beijing needed to win to advance but rarely looked capable of troubling Choi Yong-soo’s side and Yu Yang’s 88th minute header was little more than a consolation for Guoan after goals from Kang Seung-jo and Yun Ju-tae had given FC Seoul a clear advantage.
Shandong, however, had looked set to book their place in the next phase of the competition after Brazilian striker Vagner Love gave the Jinan-based club the lead from the penalty spot in the first half.
Victory would have seen Shandong join group winners Pohang Steelers in the next round, and set up a meeting with Guangzhou in what would have been a mouthwatering clash.
But two goals soon after the restart – the first from Japan international Yoichiro Kakitani, which was swiftly followed by a strike from Forlan – ended Shandong’s hopes as Cerezo progressed.
Cerezo will now meet Guangzhou over two legs in the round of 16 next month.
The first leg is in Osaka on May 6 and the second at Tianhe Stadium a week later.
The Osaka club are one of three Japanese sides to progress to the next round of the competition, with J.League champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima advancing to meet Australia’s Western Sydney Wanderers while Kawasaki Frontale take on FC Seoul for a place in the quarter-finals.
Korean clubs Jeonbuk Motors and Pohang Steelers meet in the remaining round of 16 clash in the eastern half of the draw.