Brazilians Fernando and A Lan scored either side of the break as Beijing Guoan overcame a huge jinx against South Korean opposition with a 2-1 victory over FC Seoul in their Champions League clash yesterday.
The Chinese side’s second win in as many matches — they had beaten Thailand’s Chiangrai United in February before the pandemic struck — took them to the top of Group E which also includes Melbourne Victory.
Beijing were carrying a dubious record in the tournament, having won only two of their 19 matches against South Korean teams before they lined up against FC Seoul at Doha’s Education City Stadium.
But they proved much better on the day with a cohesive display, rarely allowing the six-times K League champions any leeway, especially in the first session, which they thoroughly dominated with 68 percent ball possession.
After the initial moments of circumspection, midfielder Fernando put Beijing ahead in the eighth minute with a right-footed shot from the centre of the box as he found space following an assist from Zhang Yunin.
Clear-cut opportunities were hard to come by for both sides, but Han Chan-hee almost equalized in first-half stoppage time, his shot from outside the box going slightly wide of target.
Han had another chance four minutes after resumption but Beijing goalkeeper Hou Sen brought off a splendid save after the Korean had brilliantly controlled a Ko Kwang-min pass before taking his shot.
Although the Koreans produced a better display after the break, it was the Beijingers who still held control most of the time and looked like scoring.
And sure enough they managed to extend their lead in the 60th minute with A Lan, formerly known as Alan Carvalho, latching on to a long pass from Renato Augusto, another Brazilian in the Beijing ranks, and beating the Seoul goalkeeper Yang Han-been with a powerful shot from just outside the box.
FC Seoul got back into the match six minutes later when Beijing’s South Korean defender Kim Min-jae handled the ball just inside the area and Park Chu-yong easily found the net from the penalty spot.
Desperate for another goal, Seoul tried to up the tempo but failed to make any headway against Beijing who stayed well on course for a spot in the knockout phase.
The second match of the day saw Ulsan Hyundai redeem some South Korean pride with a 3-0 thrashing of Shanghai Shenhua, aided by a first-half brace from Yoon Bit-Garam.
Yoon, 30, known as the ‘South Korean Michael Ballack’ for his ability to score from the midfield, first struck in the 19th minute in the Group F clash with a low shot from the centre of the box following an earlier attempt that was saved.
But despite his reputation, his second goal of the day — a 41st minute effort from a Lee Sang-heon assist — was only his third overall in the competition, the first coming way back in 2012 when Ulsan Hyundai won their first and only Asian Champions League title so far.
Shenhua, who had beaten Perth glory in Doha earlier this week, conceded their third goal in the 63rd minute, Kim Kee-hee heading past goalkeeper Li Shuai following a free-kick on the left flank.
Ulsan had a few scoring chances in the final 15 minutes, but it was Shenhua who managed to sneak in a consolation goal with Zhu Jianrong’s thundering header off a Wang Wei cross one minute from time finding the top corner of the net.
The victory took Ulsan top of the table on goal difference ahead of FC Tokyo with four points from two matches.
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