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Sunday , September 25 2022

Wu late winner puts SIPG through – Victory into last 8

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Wang Shenchao (left), of China’s Shanghai SIPG fights for the ball with Yonemoto Takuji (center), of Japan’s FC Tokyo during their AFC Champions League round of 16 second leg football match in Shanghai on May 24. (AFP)
Wang Shenchao (left), of China’s Shanghai SIPG fights for the ball with Yonemoto Takuji (center), of Japan’s FC Tokyo during their AFC Champions League round of 16 second leg football match in Shanghai on May 24. (AFP)

SHANGHAI, May 24, (AFP): Wu Lei’s dramatic injury-time winner put Sven-Goran Eriksson’s Shanghai SIPG into the AFC Champions League quarter-finals against a dumbfounded FC Tokyo on Tuesday.

The Japanese visitors were seconds away from Asia’s last eight until Wu struck in the 91st minute for a 1-0 win, sparking chaotic celebrations among the SIPG players and fans.

SIPG’s win on the away goals rule, after the last-16 tie’s first leg finished 2-1, means Eriksson’s side have reached the quarter-finals at their first attempt after coming through qualifying.

Although SIPG are debutants, the well-travelled former England coach has seasoned performers to call on including Elkeson and Dario Conca, who have both lifted the trophy with Guangzhou Evergrande.

And it was Elkeson’s rocket of a shot which rebounded to Wu, who tucked away the loose ball before wheeling away and being mobbed by his team-mates.

SIPG will now believe fate is on their side as they fly the Chinese flag in the latter stages, after the demise of holders Evergrande and fellow big-spenders Jiangsu Suning.

Earlier Brazilian maestro Leonardo bagged a brilliant brace as 2006 champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors beat Melbourne Victory 2-1 to reach the last eight.

The dead-ball specialist, who buried a superb free kick in last week’s first leg, fired home another in the opening half before scoring a sizzling second goal after the break.

Besart Berisha gave Victory hope but his late strike on 84 minutes proved to be the visitors’ best moment as they went down 3-2 on aggregate, after the first leg finished 1-1.

Leonardo fizzed a free kick into the side-netting on 19 minutes before he recalibrated and hit the far top corner from an acute angle 10 minutes later.

Leonardo rattled a stanchion with another free kick after half-time and then shot inches wide, before thumping home Ricardo Lopes’s inviting square ball to make it 2-0 on 71 minutes.

With six minutes left, Berisha squeezed home a tight near-post finish from Jai Ingham’s cross, but there was to be no miracle revival for Kevin Muscat’s team.

Meanwhile, Uzbekistan’s Lokomotiv were celebrating their first passage to the quarter-finals after a 2-1 victory over Saudi giants Al Hilal in Tashkent.

Following their goalless draw in the first leg in Riyadh, coach Andrey Miklyaev had spoken about his team’s ambition to “write a new entry into club history” on Monday, and the Uzbeks didn’t disappoint with Islom Tuhatahujaev and Sherzod Faiziev scoring on either side of the break to see them through.

Tuhatahujaev was on target in the 26th minute, courtesy of an assist from Kakha Makhardze, while Faiziev made it 2-0 in the 55th minute benefiting from a Server Djeperov pass.

The Saudis pressed hard in their bid to make amends for their goalless draw in the first leg but an 89th minute penalty converted by Mohamed al-Shalloub was all they managed as they crashed out of the tournament.

 

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