Seoul power: Felix Magath’s Shandong Luneng sent crashing out of AFC Champions League
Substitute Yun Ju-tae’s coup de grace helps visiting South Korean side end Chinese interest in regional competition to set up a semi-final against Jeonbuk
FC Seoul sent Felix Magath’s Shandong Luneng crashing out of the AFC Champions League, ending Chinese interest in the competition as they powered into the semi-finals on Wednesday.
Substitute Yun Ju-tae provided the coup de grace on 83 minutes, sealing a 1-1 draw in the second leg after Walter Montillo’s opener on 59 minutes had raised hopes among Shandong’s home fans.
After Seoul won the first leg 3-1, they ran out 4-2 aggregate winners and completed another Korean victory over Chinese opposition after Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors thrashed Shanghai SIPG 5-0 on Tuesday.
The result also denies China a third Champions League title in four seasons, after Guangzhou Evergrande won in 2013 and 2015, despite the large-scale spending spree by Chinese clubs on players and coaches this year.
Ex-Bayern Munich and Fulham manager Magath was brought in mid-campaign to replace former Brazil boss Mano Menezes, but he couldn’t prevent an all-Korean semi-final with FC Seoul now set to face Jeonbuk later this month.
The visitors were content to sit back and let Shandong make the running in a first period, which saw little goalmouth action until a frantic few minutes just before half-time.
Watch: Shandong Luneng v FC Seoul
Shandong’s Montillo flashed a free-kick wide on 44 minutes and in first-half injury time, Seoul’s ex-Arsenal forward Park Chu-young shot tamely when one-on-one with goalkeeper Wang Dalei.
Five minutes after the break, Shandong’s star signing Graziano Pelle came close to breaking the deadlock, but the ex-Southampton striker put his glancing header wide.
It was Shandong standout Montillo who deservedly grabbed the opener when he nodded home Hao Junmin’s cross on 59 minutes to put Shandong one goal away from the semis.
Hao whipped a turn-and-shot just over the crossbar, but Yun then broke Chinese hearts when he finished from close range after Dejan Damjanovic’s perfectly placed cushion volley.
FC Seoul completed the win without even turning to tournament top-scorer Adriano, who is one away from a record-equalling 13 goals, but remained on the bench.
Meanwhile, Sven-Goran Eriksson said Shanghai SIPG “collapsed mentally” in their 5-0 thrashing by Jeonbuk, but backed his team to redouble their efforts to return to the AFC Champions League next year.
Shanghai shipped five second-half goals in their quarter-final second leg in Jeonju late on Tuesday to bring their promising debut campaign to a sudden halt.
It leaves Shanghai facing a scramble to return to the Asian competition next year as they are now fourth in the Chinese Super League, which is out of the Champions League qualifying spots.
“We knew that Jeonbuk were strong in attack, but we didn’t defend the way we wanted to,” former England boss Eriksson told the Asian Football Confederation website.
“If we had scored first then the whole atmosphere of the game would have changed.”
But he added: “Through this kind of experience, the players will learn and will refocus their efforts on appearing in the competition again.”
Leonardo and Lee Dong-gook both scored twice for the hosts along with Shi Ke’s own goal, while Shanghai also had Lu Wenjun sent off for a dangerous challenge.
“After the red card in the second half, we collapsed mentally,” Eriksson said. “Of course, we had already conceded, but after the dismissal we did not play the way we wanted to play.”
Title-holders Guangzhou Evergrande departed at the group stage.