Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua and South Korea's Ulsan inched
closer on Wednesday towards the AFC Champions League semi-finals
with quarter-final first leg victories.
A Gao Lin goal was enough to give Shenhua a 1-0 win over
nine-man Chonbuk Motors of Korea while Ulsan as good as booked
their place in the last four with a 6-0 thrashing of Saudi league
champions Al Shabab.
The return legs are played next Wednesday.
Shenhua, who had never before been past the group stages of
Asia's premier club competition, got the only goal of the game
after 32 miniutes when Cheng Liang sent over a deep cross from the
left flank for Gao to steer home.
Chonbuk had Kim Hyeung-bum sent off for kicking out at Gao four
minutes later and were reduced to nine men when substitute Botti
elbowed Sun Ji in the face in the 77th minute.
But Shenhua were unable to capitalise further and add to their
goal tally before next weeks return match in Korea against a side
struggling to emerge from a slump, having lost three of their last
four fixtures in the K-League.
In contrast, Ulsan have been on a roll of late and entered the
match buoyed by winger Lee Chun-soo's decision to turn down a trial
with English Premier League high-flyers Portsmouth.
Al Shabab came to Korea just one game into the defence of their
Saudi league title while Ulsan are already beyond the half-way
stage in the 2006 K-League and the difference in competitive match
sharpness was abundantly clear.
They scored three goals in each half.
Lee Chin-soo put them one up after 22 minutes, shrugging off his
marker to lift the ball over Saudi international keeper Mohammed
Khojah and into the net.
Ulsan doubled their lead six minutes later through a Lee Sang-ho
header and went to the break 3-0 ahead when Choi Sung-kuk scrambled
the ball home from the six-yard box.
The Korean side took complete control of the game in the second
period and rattled in three more to make it a miserable homecoming
for Humberto Coelho, the Al Shabab coach who previously led Korea's
national team until he quit in 2004.
In late matches, title holders Al Ittihad play Syrian underdogs
Al Karama while 11-time Kuwaiti champions Al Qadisiya take on
former champions and last year's runner-up Al Ain of United Arab
(AFP September 14, 2006)