Tokyo advance in Asian Champions League to set up Beijing clash

By Michael Church
·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: AFC Champions League - Group F - Tokyo v Ulsan Hyundai

By Michael Church

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Japan's FC Tokyo beat Australia’s Perth Glory 1-0 in the Asian Champions League on Thursday to finish runners-up in Group F ahead of Shanghai Shenhua and set up a last-16 clash against Chinese Super League side Beijing Guoan

Ulsan Hyundai, who topped the group and ended Shanghai Shenhua's hopes of reaching the knockouts with a 4-1 win, will next face Melbourne Victory after the Australian side beat FC Seoul 2-1 to advance for the first time since 2016.

The games will take place on Sunday as teams from the east of Asia continue to play out the coronavirus-delayed continental championship in a biosecure environment in Qatar.

At stake is a spot in the final on Dec. 19, when the leading team from east Asia will take on west Asian qualifiers Persepolis from Iran in Doha’s Al Janoub Stadium.

In Group F, Tokyo kept their campaign alive thanks to Adailton’s eighth-minute goal, with the Brazilian latching onto a quick ball out of defence from Manato Shinada before cutting inside to slip his shot past Perth goalkeeper Liam Reddy.

The win moved Kenta Hasegawa’s side onto 10 points, three ahead of Shanghai Shenhua, who needed to win against already-qualified Ulsan Hyundai to have any hope of progressing.

Yet two goals inside the opening 24 minutes for Ulsan from Park Jeong-in and Lee Sang-heon set the tone of the encounter that was wrapped up thanks to Bjorn Johnsen's second-half brace.

Beijing Guoan had already sealed their place in the next phase as winners of Group E but Bruno Genesio’s side saw their perfect record ended in a 1-1 draw with Thailand’s Chiangrai United, although Alan Carvalho’s second-half goal ensured they remained unbeaten, finishing with 16 points.

First-half goals from Marco Rojas and Jake Brimmer gave Melbourne a two-goal halftime lead against FC Seoul in a game the Australians had to win to progress to the round of 16.

Rojas slotted home from the edge of the area with only five minutes on the clock and Brimmer made it 2-0 from the penalty spot after Callum McManaman was upended in the area by Hwang Hyun-soo.

Hwang made amends at the other end in the 64th minute with a close-range header that set-up a nervous finish for Melbourne, but Grant Brebner’s side held on, securing second in the group with seven points, a point ahead of Seoul.

“We had to fight really hard,” said Rojas.

“It was a really difficult game but because of our fantastic start we had the two-goal advantage and we were able to hold on.”

(Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Toby Davis)