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Ulsan beat Melbourne to reach quarterfinals at AFC Champions League

All News 09:08 December 07, 2020

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Dec. 7 (Yonhap) -- They keep marching on.

Ulsan Hyundai FC blanked Melbourne Victory 3-0 to advance to the quarterfinals at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League on Sunday night in Qatar.

Bjorn Johnsen grabbed a brace while Won Du-jae also scored for the K League 1 runners-up at Education City Stadium in Al-Rayyan, lifting Ulsan to their first quarterfinals at Asia's top club tournament since 2012.

Ulsan won their first and only AFC title that same year.

In this Associated Press photo, Bjorn Johnsen of Ulsan Hyundai FC (L) scores against Melbourne Victory during their round of 16 match at the Asian Football Confederation Champions League at Education City Stadium in Al-Rayyan, Qatar, on Dec. 6, 2020. (Yonhap)

Ulsan's next opponent will be determined in a draw on Tuesday.

The AFC Champions League kicked off in February but went into a hiatus in early March due to the coronavirus pandemic. For clubs in the East Zone -- covering South Korea, China, Australia and Japan, among others -- the group stage resumed last month in a bubble set up in Qatar. Ulsan, who had a draw in their opening Group F match on Feb. 11, won the remaining five group matches in Qatar to take the top seed, while outscoring opponents 13-4.

And by putting up three goals on the board against Melbourne, Ulsan became only the second club in tournament history to score multiple goals in six consecutive matches. Guangzhou Evergrande became the first to do so in 2013, and they won the title that year.

In this Associated Press photo, Ulsan Hyundai FC players celebrate their 3-0 win over Melbourne Victory in their round of 16 match at the Asian Football Confederation Champions League at Education City Stadium in Al-Rayyan, Qatar, on Dec. 6, 2020. (Yonhap)

Ulsan attackers were shot out of a cannon early, with Yoon Bitgaram and Junior Negrao testing Melbourne defense inside the first eight minutes. Goalkeeper Max Crocombe had to stand on his head to keep the match scoreless, denying Kim In-sung in the 21st and then Junior on a deflection in the 41st.

Super subs came through for Ulsan. Johnsen, who replaced Koh Myong-jn at the start of the second half, opened the scoring in the 65th, when he pounced on a loose ball after Yoon's shot pinballed off Melbourne defender Aaron Anderson and then Kim before dropping near the penalty spot.

Then Won scored in the 77th minute, five minutes after he entered the match for Lee Chung-yong. Yoon set him up with a picture-perfect free kick, and all Won had to do was change direction with his head.

In this AFP photo, Won Du-jae of Ulsan Hyundai FC (C) is congratulated by teammate Dave Bulthuis (L) after scoring a goal against Melbourne Victory during their round of 16 match at the Asian Football Confederation Champions League at Education City Stadium in Al-Rayyan, Qatar, on Dec. 6, 2020. (Yonhap)

Johnsen rounded out the scoring in the 86th. Lee Keun-ho's headed pass hit Dylan Ryan and bounced toward the net. Johnsen beat everyone to the ball and struck it past Crocombe from the goalmouth.

Ulsan head coach Kim Do-hoon gave kudos to his players for scoring multiple goals while not conceding any and said he doesn't want them to stop just yet.

"We're still hungry for more goals," Kim said. "We've equaled the record with six consecutive matches of at least two goals, and we'll try to break that in our next match."

Ulsan boast an envious depth of talent up and down the lineup, as attested by the performance of Johnsen and Won off the bench in Sunday's win. Kim said he's counting his blessings every day.

"I am happy to be coaching such a talented squad," the coach added. "All of these players have prepared hard for this competition, and they're all doing the best they can under the circumstances (of being in a bubble). Any one of these guys can step up and perform, and that should set us up well going forward."

One other remaining K League club, Suwon Samsung Bluewings, will try to join Ulsan in the final eight Monday night. They will face Yokohama F. Marinos at Khalifa International Stadium in Doha at 5 p.m. local time, or 11 p.m. in South Korea.

In this Associated Press photo, Lee Chung-yong of Ulsan Hyundai FC (R) battles Jay Barnett of Melbourne Victory for the ball during their round of 16 match at the Asian Football Confederation Champions League at Education City Stadium in Al-Rayyan, Qatar, on Dec. 6, 2020. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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