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Soccer-Late JDT goal eliminates former Asian champions Ulsan Hyundai

reuters.com · 04/30/2022 12:20
Soccer-Late JDT goal eliminates former Asian champions Ulsan Hyundai

By Michael Church

- Ulsan Hyundai went out of the Asian Champions League on Saturday as the South Koreans were handed a 2-1 loss by Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) that took the Malaysians into the last 16 and also saw Japanese champions Kawasaki Frontale eliminated.

JDT's last-gasp win came courtesy of Park Young-woo's injury time own goal and means Benjamin Mora's side finished first in Group I ahead of Kawasaki with former champions Ulsan - who won the most recent of their two Asian titles in 2020 - languishing in third.

Only the winners of the five groups in east Asia advance to the next phase of the competition, where they will be joined by the three runners-up with the best records.

But the qualification picture is complicated by the withdrawal from the competition of Shanghai Port days before the start of the group stage due to COVID-19 travel restrictions put in place by Chinese authorities in their home city.

That means only the results between the runners-up and the teams who finish first and third in their respective groups will be counted when comparing records between the sides who finish in second.

Under that rule, Kawasaki - who defeated Guangzhou FC 1-0 to seal second spot in Group I - have picked up five points and cannot claim one of the berths available.

JDT's progress was assured in a dramatic finish in Johor when Park's 94th minute own goal gave them the win after Ulsan's Jun Amano had cancelled out Leandro Velazquez's spectacular fifth minute free kick.

There were few problems for Urawa Red Diamonds as the two-time winners crushed Shandong Taishan 5-0 as the Japanese side finished second and confirmed themselves as one of the best runners-up behind Daegu FC in Group F.

The South Koreans were made to work for their 2-1 win over Lion City Sailors from Singapore, coming from behind after Song Ui-young had put the Singaporeans in front in a game that was halted for over an hour due to heavy rain.

Former Asian Player of the Year Lee Keun-ho levelled the scores and Brazilian striker Zeca struck from the penalty spot nine minutes from time to take Alexandre Gama's side through.

Melbourne City will have to wait for the outcome of Sunday's remaining games to see if they take one of the runners-up spots after a 3-0 win over United City FC from the Philippines was not enough to take them past BG Pathum United at the top of Group G.

The Thai side were confirmed as group winners despite being held to a 0-0 draw by South Korea's Jeonnam Dragons.

(Reporting by Michael Church
Editing by Helen Popper)

((Michael.Church@thomsonreuters.com; +852 9023 4874;))