Adelaide, Ulsan top groups in Champions League
SINGAPORE - Agence France-Presse
Adelaide defender Nigel Boogaard (R) is challenged by Ulsan player Rafinha. AFP photoAdelaide United and Ulsan Hyundai secured crucial home advantage for the AFC Champions League last 16 yesterday as they both won their final group games to ensure top spots.
Adelaide scored twice in the second half for its 2-0 away victory over former champion Gamba Osaka, while South Korea’s Ulsan edged Group F’s top-of-the-table clash 1-0 against FC Tokyo.
Both teams will now play this month’s one-off round-of-16 games at home, a major boon in a competition where away games frequently involve long-haul flights across the vast Asian region.
In yesterday’s other early result, A-League champion Brisbane Roar ended its already doomed Group F campaign with a disappointing 1-1 draw against bottom-placed Beijing Guoan.
Uzbekistan’s Bunyodkor and K-League outfit Pohang Steelers were left playing for second spot in Group E after Adelaide’s win in Osaka.
Gamba, who beat Adelaide in the 2008 final, kept the scores level until the 65th-minute, when substitute Dutch forward Sergio van Dijk nudged in a cross from the right.
The Australians were gifted another goal when Akihiro Sato’s attempted clearance from a corner flew into his own net with three minutes left on the clock.
Few chances for attack
In Ulsan, defender Kang Min-Soo’s 37th-minute strike proved the difference in a tense encounter with FC Tokyo. Ulsan finished top of Group F with four wins out of six, three points clear of Tokyo, who also qualified for the knock-out round.
Meanwhile Brisbane was left frustrated with the 1-1 draw after laying siege to the visitors’ goal but had only Albanian striker Besart Berisha’s 15th-minute strike to show for its dominance.
Beijing Guoan scored from one of their few attacking raids, when Li Hanbo powered home a fierce volley into the roof of the net after being put clear on the right on 34 minutes.
Brisbane totted up 31 shots on goal, but substitute Mao Jianqing had a chance to snatch all three points in the 78th minute only to miscue his shot at the Roar goal. Berisha hit the post in the 90th minute.