Asian Champions League results: Al Ain secure semi-final spot with 1-0 win over Lokomotiv
Al Ain put their domestic woes behind them to record a 1-0 win over Lokomotiv in Tashkent on Tuesday, earning a passage to the semi-finals of the Asian Champions League.
With the first leg ending in a goalless draw last month in the Garden City, Al Ain travelled to Tashkent knowing an all important away goal and a victory would seal their place in the last four in the continental championship for the second time in three years.
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Al Ain’s form ahead of the game at Bunyodkor Stadium was fairly unimpressive. In two domestic fixtures, they scraped an injury-time win against Kalba before being hammered 5-1 by bitter rivals Al Ahli in their second Arabian Gulf Cup match.
However, with Zlatko Dalic armed with all his UAE internationals returning for club duties, they rose to the occasion.
Caio, Al Ain’s new Brazilian signing, scored the all-important goal six minutes before half time and then they did well to preserve that lead in the second 45 minutes to win the tie 1-0 on the night and on aggregate.
Caio completed an excellent move he himself started. His ball out wide to Douglas saw his teammate draw two defenders out of position, allowing him to slip a ball inside for his speedy winger to shoot past Lokomotiv goalkeeper Ignatiy Nesterov.
Danilo Asprilla could have doubled the lead 10 minutes into the second half had he shown more composure when one-on-one against Nesterov, but his shot, while powerfully struck, was punched over the crossbar.
Lokomotiv pushed hard for the equaliser in the second half with the Al Ain defence put under severe pressure.
Nemanja Janicic’s header from a corner brushed off the far post and Khalid Essa, the Al Ain keeper, did well to push out a stunning 30-yard shot from substitutes Alibaev Ikromjon and smother a close-range effort from Marat Bikmaev.
Al Ain will next face South Korea’s Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, who thrashed Shanghai SIPG 5-0 in the early game, in the first leg of their semi-final on September 27, with the return leg October 18.
Al Ain won the inaugural Asian Champions League in 2003 and were the finalists two years later.
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors hammer Shanghai SIPG to reach semis
Two goals each from Leonardo and Lee Dong-gook catapulted Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors to a 5-0 victory over Sven-Goran Eriksson’s Shanghai SIPG as they stormed into the Asian Champions League semi-finals on Tuesday.
The 2006 champions were held for 52 minutes in the quarter-final second leg at Jeonju before Leonardo’s well-taken goal blew the floodgates open.
Shi Ke’s own-goal doubled Jeonbuk’s lead before Leonardo scored again from the penalty spot and veteran striker Lee struck twice.
The result makes a statement for South Korean football at a time when China’s mega-rich clubs are hogging the Asian limelight and attracting top players.
FC Seoul are also well-placed against Chinese opposition as they take a 3-1 lead into the second leg of their quarter-final against Shandong Luneng tonight.
For SIPG, it was a night to forget as new signing Hulk failed to make any headway.
Jeonbuk’s relentless pressure finally told seven minutes into the second half as a well-worked move broke SIPG’s resistance.
Kim Shin-wook passed to Leonardo on the edge of the box and the Brazilian arrowed his shot past goalkeeper Yan.
On 58 minutes Lee Jae-sung’s cutback was bundled into the net by SIPG’s Shi. Worse was to come when Lu Wenjun was sent off for kicking Kim Hyung-il in the head.
Jeonbuk added three more goals to their tally in the final eight minutes.
Leonardo scored from the spot after Lee Jong-ho was fouled in the box, before Dong-gook twice finished sharply to round off a miserable night for Eriksson’s Chinese team.
Tuesday (aggregate scores)
• Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 5 Shaghai SIPG 0 (5-0)
• Lokomotiv 0 Al Ain 1 (0-1)
• Shandong Luneng v FC Seoul (3-1), 3.30pm
• Al Nasr v El Jaish (0-3), 8.30pm
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Published: September 13, 2016 04:00 AM