The AFC Champions League round of 16 ties wrapped up in the East Zone last night with plenty of surprises. We’ve picked the best XI from this round of the competition.
Goalkeeper: Vedran Janjetovic (Sydney FC, Croatia/Australia)
The Sydney FC stopper went from villain to hero in the space of minutes in their first leg tie with Shangdong Luneng. After taking down Wu Xinghan in the box, the Croatian-born keeper dived low to his left to deny Walter Montillo’s penalty, later dealing with a last gasp effort from range.
Right Back: Jason Geria (Melbourne Victory, Australia)
Despite crashing out to Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, Geria put in an exemplary defensive display to keep out wing wizard Leonardo out of the first leg. The Brazilian’s only impact was from a free kick in Melbourne, thanks to Geria’s close marking.
Centre Back: Matt Jurman (Sydney FC, Australia)
Before their game in Sydney, Matt Jurman said they were facing “the biggest game in the club’s history,” and he put in a brave display over both legs. Were it not for Hao Jumin’s last-ditch effort, the centre back would’ve capped off a consistent display over both legs. However, it wasn’t to be.
Centre Back: Tomoaki Makino (Urawa Red Diamonds, Japan)
Helped Urawa Red Diamonds keep a clean sheet in the first leg against FC Seoul. The Reds played much of the second leg with a defensive mindset with Makino solid at the back. The Red were unlucky not to progress to the next round as a 29th minute Dejan Damjanovic goal set up extra time and penalties.
Left Back: Tomoya Ugajin (Urawa Red Diamonds, Japan)
Fellow Tomoya Ugajin scored the only goal of the first leg encounter in Saitama. A somewhat mistimed effort, the left back’s goal highlighted his constant ability to bomb up and down the wing.
Right Wing: Wu Lei (Shanghai SIPG, China)
His goals across both legs were the decider as Sven-Göran Eriksson’s Shanghai SIPG overcame FC Tokyo, thanks to the away goals rule. His shot from close range in the first minute of stoppage time sent the home fans into ecstasy last night and they will be hoping for similar miracles in the quarters.
Centre Midfielder: Lee Jae-sung (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, South Korea)
The potentially Everton-bound midfielder caused all sorts of trouble for Melbourne Victory, helping Jeonbuk create threat after threat on the counter-attack.
Centre Midfielder: Yojiro Takahagi (FC Seoul, Japan)
FC Seoul’s playmaker kept feeding Adriano and Dejan Damjanovic to see them overcome a 1-0 first leg deficit to win 3-2 and then 7-6 on penalties.
Left Wing: Leonardo (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, Brazil)
Outstanding over both legs, the Brazilian scored three goals including two free kicks and a first-time shot from the edge of the area in two man of the match displays.
Forward: Elkeson (Shanghai SIPG, Brazil)
The £14m man worked hard for Shanghai SIPG to see them through against FC Tokyo. He peppered the opposition goal throughout the games and only denied a place on the scoresheet thanks to some acrobatics from Yoka Akimoto.
Forward: Adriano (Seoul FC, Brazil)
FC Seoul’s star striker continued his impressive scoring run in all competitions. His goal in the second leg keeps him as the top scorer in the Champions League and his penalty helped them defeat Urawa Red Diamonds.