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(2nd LD) Jeonbuk reach AFC Champions League knockout stage as group winners

All Headlines 22:19 May 04, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS coach's comments)
By Joo Kyung-don

SEOUL, May 4 (Yonhap) -- South Korean club Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors advanced to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League knockout stage Wednesday after a 2-2 draw with Jiangsu FC.

The result at Jeonju World Cup Stadium in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province, was enough for Jeonbuk to finish atop Group E with 10 points with three wins, a draw and two losses. FC Tokyo had the same record, after defeating Becamex Binh Duong 2-1 Wednesday, but Jeonbuk had the tiebreaker edge with a superior head-to-head record, having defeated the Japanese club twice.

Jeonbuk will make their fourth straight appearance in the AFC Champions League (ACL) knockout stage. The 2006 champions will play Melbourne Victory, Group G runners-up, over two legs on May 17 and May 24 for the quarterfinals spot.

Jeonbuk and Group F winners FC Seoul are the two South Korean clubs in the last 16. Suwon Samsung Bluewings, the 2001 and 2002 ACL winners, and Pohang Steelers, three-time continental champions, have been eliminated from the Asian premier club competition.

A draw at home would assure Jeonbuk a place in the round of 16, but the two-time defending K League Classic champions were aggressive from the start, trying to avenge their 3-2 defeat at Jiangsu in March.

Without midfielder Kim Bo-kyung and forward Ricardo Lopes -- both suspended for yellow card accumulations in earlier matches -- Jeonbuk broke through in the 19th minute after right back Choi Chul-soon was brought down by Yang Xiaotian in the box and awarded a penalty. Leonardo scored from the spot to make it 1-0.

Jiangsu, however, leveled the score just five minutes later as Alex Teixeira pounced on a poor clearance from the Jeonbuk defense and scored with his left foot.

With both teams trying to go ahead, Jeonbuk fell behind in the 54th when Luiz Henrique's late lunge on Ramires in the box gave the visitors a penalty. Jo slotted the spot kick with his left foot and gave Jiangsu a 2-1 lead.

Jeonbuk almost gave up an another goal to Jiangsu in the 58th, but goalkeeper Kwoun Sun-tae got a piece of Teixeira's shot.

Desperately looking for an equalizer, Lim Jong-eun finally scored for the hosts in the 68th, pouncing on the ball after Choi Kyu-baek headed back a corner taken by Choi Jae-soo.

Both sides made substitutions to boost their offense, with Jiangsu's Tao Yuan, who came on for Liu Jianye, having a decisive chance in the 86th. None of them pulled off a winner, despite four minutes of extra time.

Jeonbuk head coach Choi Kang-hee lamented over the results, saying that his club failed to show their best performance at home.

"We should have collected a victory at home," Choi said. "If we had had Kim Bo-kyung in midfield, we could have performed better."

The 57-year-old coach said that they will now analyze their next opponents Melbourne, while focusing on the top-flight K League Classic. Jeonbuk sit at second place behind FC Seoul in the domestic league where they aim for a third straight title.

"We reached the round of 16 as we had planned," he said. "Against Melbourne, we should put more emphasis on the away match on May 17."

Elsewhere, already qualified FC Seoul fell 2-1 to Sanfrecce Hiroshima and picked up their first loss in the ACL.

At Hiroshima Athletic Stadium in Hiroshima, Japan, Seoul gave up goals to Takuma Asano in the 27th and Yusuke Minagawa in the 39th. The visitors' only goal came in the 88th after Carlos Adriano converted a penalty.

Seoul have already secured a top spot in Group F after 2-1 victory over Buriram United on April 20. They will finish the group with four wins, a draw and a loss.

In the group stage, Seoul netted 17 goals, most among 32 clubs in the ACL, with their Brazilian striker Adriano leading the way by scoring 10 of them. The 2013 ACL runners-up will face Urawa Red Diamonds, Group H runners-up, in the round of 16.

kdon@yna.co.kr
(END)

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