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(LEAD) FC Seoul beat 10-man Shandong in 1st leg of AFC Champions League quarters

All Headlines 22:44 August 24, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS comments, photo in last 10 paras)
By Joo Kyung-don

SEOUL, Aug. 24 (Yonhap) -- South Korean club FC Seoul beat Shandong Luneng 3-1 in the first leg of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League quarterfinals on Wednesday.

Seoul, the 2013 AFC Champions League (ACL) runners-up, collected a sweet victory at Seoul World Cup Stadium thanks to Park Chu-young and Dejan Damjanovic, who each scored one goal and collected an assist in the match. Argentine midfielder Walter Montillo scored the only goal for the Chinese Super League side.

This was the third meeting between Seoul and Shandong at the ACL this year. Two sides previously met in the group stage where Seoul beat Shandong 4-1 in China before they played to a scoreless draw in South Korea.

The second leg will be played on Sept. 14 at Jinan Olympic Sports Centre in Jinan, China. The aggregate score after the two matches will determine the winner, with the away goals rule in effect. Seoul can clinch a spot in the semifinals with a draw or even with a loss by a one-goal margin.

Against Shandong, Seoul started Park and Damjanovic up front, resting the tournament's leading goal scorer Carlos Adriano who netted 11 goals before coming to the quarters. The Chinese side fielded their star forward Graziano Pelle who scored two goals for Italy at the Euro 2016.

Park led Seoul's attack early in the match, with a header in the eighth and a close range left-foot effort nine minutes later. He then delivered a pinpoint cross to Damjanovic, who headed down for Seoul's 1-0 lead in the 19th minute.

After picking up an assist, Park put his name on a scoreboard with a right-foot strike in the 31st after receiving a pass from Cho Chan-ho. It was Park's first goal at the ACL this season.

Shandong, however, reduced the deficit to 2-1 just four minutes later when Montillo's free kick outside the box beat Seoul goalkeeper Yu Sang-hun. The visitors almost leveled the score in the 42nd, but Qui Tianyu's right-foot strike went over the net.

Looking for an equalizer, Shangdong started the second half aggressively, but both Liu Binbin's right-foot strike in the 50th and Dai Lin's header off the corner a minute later were denied by Yu.

Seoul reinforced their offense in the 60th as Adriano came on for Cho Chan-ho. And the Brazilian striker showed his skills just nine minutes later as he received a backheel pass from Damjanovic in the box and slotted the ball into the net.

Shandong got into further trouble when Jin Jingado received his second yellow card of the match for bringing down Adriano and was sent off in the 81st.

With the one-man advantage, Seoul kept knocking on Shandong's door with Park's free kick in the 83rd and Lee Seok-hyun's strike in the 86th, but failed to score extra goals.

Seoul head coach Hwang Sun-hong said he is pleased with the result.

"Thanks to our fans, we had a very good game," he said. "I think we just finished the first half, so we will prepare thoroughly to reach the next stage."

Hwang took charge of Seoul after former boss Choi Yong-soo left for Jiangsu Suning in June. The former Pohang Steelers coach said Seoul players are not executing his tactics perfectly, but they are improving.

"I want our players to increase the team's tempo in a match, but that's going to take some time," he said. "When our opponents focus in defense, we try to switch the position of the players and make sharp passes, and today, Park Chung-young did his job well."

Seoul striker Damjanovic said he is confident of winning the next match at Shandong. He previously played in the Chinese Super League for two seasons before returning to Seoul.

"The most important thing is that we won," he said. "However, Shandong scored a goal here, so we must be careful in the next match."

The Montenegrin said although Hwang's tactics are different from Choi's, this isn't a big problem for the players. Damjanovic said he actually feels more comfortable with new system.

"Coach is giving me a lot of freedom," he said. "Tactics are different, but our mentality is the same. I know if we can play like this, and if we can focus, it's not important how our opponents play."

Shandong head coach Felix Magath said Seoul played well from beginning to end. The German, who also took over the team in June, lamented that his players lacked confidence in the first half.

"We had a problem in our defense in the early first half and Seoul took advantage of this," he said. "We tried to fight back after Montillo's goal, and it's a pity that we couldn't."


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