Shanghai SIPG edge past Chiangrai United into ACL

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Shanghai SIPG are through to the 2018 AFC Champions League group stage after claiming a narrow 1-0 win over Chiangrai United on Tuesday.

In an intriguing clash at the Shanghai Stadium, it was Yu Hai who emerged as the unlikely hero for the hosts as he popped up to score the only goal of the game three minutes into the second half.

While the Chinese Super League giants were ultimately able to book their place in Group F, where they will meet Kawaski Frontale, Ulsan Hyundai and Melbourne Victory, they did make hard work of their Thai opponents.

And Chiangrai had an excellent chance to open the scoring in the 11th minute when Piyaphon Phanichakul bombed forward before cutting the ball back to the unmarked Gilberto Macena, only for the Brazilian to screw his shot harmlessly wide.

Macena had another opportunity two minutes before the half-hour mark when a swift counterattack saw him threaten to race through on goal, but Yan Junling was quick to race out of his box to deny him.

However, SIPG enjoyed the dominant share of possession and came close to breaking the deadlock just before halftime, when Odil Ahmedov’s fierce volley inside the box forced Chatchai Budprom into a fine reflex save.

Still, despite his best efforts, Chatchai was unable to prevent the hosts from netting in the 48th minute.

Twice, the Chiangrai keeper made excellent stops to keep out efforts by Yu Hai and Shi Ke, but Yu reacted quickest to the loose ball and headed the ball over the line from four yards out.

The onus was now on the visitors to force their way back into the contest if they were to keep alive their dream of qualifying for the Champions League proper.

But, despite showing plenty of fight, they just did not have enough in them to really trouble the opposition as Shanghai were ultimately able to comfortably hold out for the triumph.

SHANGHAI SIPG: Yan Junling, Wang Shenchao, He Guan, Shi Ke, Yu Hai, Cai Huikang, Odil Ahmedov (Zhang Yi 46’), Oscar, Hulk, Wu Lei (Hu Jinghang 90+2’), Lu Wenjun (Elkeson 62’).

CHIANGRAI UNITED: Chatchai Budprom, Piyaphon Phanichakul, Victor Cardozo, Artit Daosawang, Shinniphat Lee-Oh, Chaiyawat Buran, Phitiwat Sukjitthammakul, Lee Yong-rae, Akarawin Sawasdee (Pathompol Charoenrattanapirom 70’), Gilberto Macena (Sivakorn Tiatrakul 79’), Cleiton Silva.