Shandong Luneng upbeat despite 1-1 draw with Sydney FC in AFC Champions League tie
Chinese hosts failed to prevent Australian visitors from levelling the score, while Tomoya Ugajin’s lucky strike sees Urawa Reds clinch win over FC Seoul
Shandong Luneng’s AFC Champions League campaign had a minor setback on Wednesday night when the Chinese hosts failed to hold off Sydney FC, ended up with a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their last-16 game.
David Carney scored an important away goal in Sydney FC’s draw at the Jinan Olympic Sports Centre with a boisterous crowd of 16,917.
The hosts could have gone ahead early, but their Argentine playmaker Walter Montillo missed from the penalty spot in the seventh minute after Wu Xinghan had been brought down.
Carney nodded in a Riley Woodcock cross to put Sydney ahead, but the visitors could not hold onto it and Diego Tardelli equalised near the hour mark.
“Today, it was a very entertaining match and we both played good football,” Shandong coach Mano Menezes told the AFC website.
“We had more chances and we should have won, but sometimes the side who has the upper hand can’t win.
“But after a performance like this, we are certainly more confident now. If we keep doing what we are doing now, we have a good chance to win it in Sydney.
“I think we were well balanced at both ends and we didn’t give them too many opportunities. I hope we can improve our finishing, though, that is how can win the next game.”
Sydney coach Graham Arnold was satisfied even though they came away with a draw.
“We made some mistakes and conceded a goal through a set piece, however we were generally good throughout the game,” he told the AFC website.
“I don’t think the next round is 50-50 now, it should be 60-40 in our favour. We have an away goal, and they will have to play away.”
In Saitama, a first-half volley by midfielder Tomoya Ugajin secured a 1-0 win by Urawa Red Diamonds over FC Seoul.
The 2007 champions took the lead in the 14th minute when Ugajin connected on to a superb Ryota Moriwaki pass, netting a looping effort from a tight angle.
The J League side successfully clung on to their lead to claim a slight advantage ahead of next week’s second leg clash in Seoul.
“It [the move] went just the way we do it in practice,” Ugajin told Kyodo news agency of his stunning goal.
“But seriously, there were players in front of goal, so I was just trying to put the ball back in. But I reckon I could score a goal like that one time out of every 10 chances.”