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(LEAD) Ulsan, Pohang to clash in AFC Champions League semifinals

All News 21:49 October 17, 2021

(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead; UPDATES throughout with latest result)
By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Oct. 17 (Yonhap) -- Lee Dong-gyeong scored a wonder goal in extra time to send defending champions Ulsan Hyundai FC to the semifinals of the top Asian club football tournament on Sunday, setting up an all-K League clash with a ticket to the final at stake.

Lee's screamer from outside the box in the 101st minute sealed Ulsan's 3-2 victory over Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in the quarterfinals of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League at Jeonju World Cup Stadium in Jeonju, 240 kilometers south of Seoul.

Lee Dong-gyeong of Ulsan Hyundai FC celebrates his goal against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors during the clubs' quarterfinal match of the Asian Football Confederation Champions League at Jeonju World Cup Stadium in Jeonju, 240 kilometers south of Seoul, on Oct. 17, 2021. (Yonhap)

Following the nail-biting win over their K League 1 rivals, Ulsan will face Pohang Steelers in the all-Korean semifinals at 7 p.m. Wednesday, back at Jeonju World Cup Stadium.

Pohang knocked off Nagoya Grampus 3-0 earlier Sunday at Jeonju.

In the nightcap, Valeri Qazaishvili put Ulsan up 1-0 in the 13th minute, as he danced his way through multiple defenders in the box and scored off his left foot.

Jeonbuk pulled even in the 39th minute on Han Kyo-won's goal, moments after Yun Il-lok narrowly missed on a chance to double Ulsan's lead.

Kim Bo-kyung intercepted a clearing attempt by Ulsan at halfway line and then threaded a pass to Han, who found the bottom right corner with his right-footed strike to make it a 1-1 game.

But Yun finally had his moment during first-half injury time, as a beneficiary of some nifty, unselfish passing.

The sequence started with Yoon Bitgaram's shot from the center of the box. Jeonbuk goalkeeper Song Bum-keun made the initial stop but the rebound rolled Seol Young-woo to the left of the goal.

Valeri Qazaishvili of Ulsan Hyundai FC (C) takes a shot against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors during the clubs' quarterfinal match of the Asian Football Confederation Champions League at Jeonju World Cup Stadium in Jeonju, 240 kilometers south of Seoul, on Oct. 17, 2021. (Yonhap)

Instead of shooting at the open net, Seol flicked the ball to his right to find Oh Se-hun. Oh then made a touch pass to Yun, who poked the ball home to complete the tic-tac-toe play.

Jeonbuk responded in the 48th minute with Takahiro Kunimoto's equalizer. After Gustavo headed down a long throw-in from Kim Jin-su, Kunimoto trapped the ball with his chest and volleyed it home before the ball touched the ground.

Yoon Bitgaram came within inches of restoring a lead for Ulsan in the 81st minute, when his mid-range strike rang off the crossbar.

Jeonbuk, too, found the woodwork in extra time, with Gustavo's header bouncing off the left post in the 97th minute.

Then it was Lee Dong-gyeong's time to shine four minutes later. After receiving a pass from Yoon Bitgaram outside the right edge of the box, Lee took a moment before launching a frozen rope to the top left corner

Jeonbuk kept battling for an equalizer and in their last opportunity, Gustavo rolled his shot just wide of the left post, and Ulsan breathed a sigh of relief.

In this Associated Press photo, Kim Tae-hwan of Ulsan Hyundai FC (L) battles Gustavo of Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors for the ball during the clubs' quarterfinal match of the Asian Football Confederation Champions League at Jeonju World Cup Stadium in Jeonju, 240 kilometers south of Seoul, on Oct. 17, 2021. (Yonhap)

Earlier in the day, Lim Sang-hyub grabbed a brace and Lee Seung-mo added another for Pohang's convincing win over Nagoya in the quarterfinals. The Steelers are headed to the semifinals of the AFC tournament for the first time since 2009, which is the last time they won the tournament.

Teams in the East Region, with clubs from South Korea, Japan and Australia, among others, are on the opposite side of the bracket from the West Region, which features teams from Iran, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, etc.

On the West Region bracket, Al-Nassr and Al-Hilal will meet in the all-Saudi Arabian semifinals on Tuesday.

In this Reuters photo, Pohang Steelers players celebrate their goal against Nagoya Grampus during the clubs' quarterfinal match of the Asian Football Confederation Champions League at Jeonju World Cup Stadium in Jeonju, 240 kilometers south of Seoul, on Oct. 17, 2021. (Yonhap)

Lim opened the scoring in the 53rd minute, scoring on a rebound after a mad scramble in front of the net following a corner kick. Nagoya goalkeeper Mitchell Langerak made the initial stop in a chaotic sequence, but the ball trickled to Lim, who made no mistake.

Pohang doubled their lead in the 70th minute. Shin Jin-ho sent a lobbing pass from midfield, and Lee Seung-mo got behind the defense before volleying it past Langerak.

During injury time, Lim put the icing on the cake by chipping the ball over the outstretched hands of Langerak.

In this Reuters photo, Go Young-joon of Pohang Steelers (L) is tackled by Yasuki Kimoto of Nagoya Grampus during the clubs' quarterfinal match at the Asian Football Confederation Champions League at Jeonju World Cup Stadium in Jeonju, 240 kilometers south of Seoul, on Oct. 17, 2021. (Yonhap)

Though Jeonju World Cup Stadium is home of Jeonbuk during the K League play, it is technically serving as a neutral venue for the AFC tournament.

The Asian football governing body has decided to hold East Region's quarterfinals and semifinals matches in South Korea to minimize traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic. All knockout matches, including the final scheduled for Nov. 23, will be one-and-done affairs.

In this AFP photo, Manuel Palacios of Pohang Steelers (C) tries to dribble past Ryoya Morishita of Nagoya Grampus (R) during the clubs' quarterfinal match at the Asian Football Confederation Champions League at Jeonju World Cup Stadium in Jeonju, 240 kilometers south of Seoul, on Oct. 17, 2021. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
(END)

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