Victory hand Shanghai SIPG first loss; Ulsan fight back for draw

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Shanghai SIPG ended the AFC Champions League group stage by tasting defeat for the first time after losing 2-1 to a spirited Melbourne Victory outfit on Wednesday.

Despite having no chance of qualifying for the knockout round and fielding a host of youngsters, it was the Victory who opened the scoring at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium in the 40th minute.

An excellent break down the left by Kenny Athiu saw him proceed to play in a low cross, and Pierce Waring timed his run to perfection to meet with a first-time finish into the bottom corner.

SIPG, who were also resting a host of key players with top spot in Group F already secured, equalised on the stroke of halftime when Lu Wenjun was released by Elkeson and effortlessly got around Rhys Williams, before cutting the ball back for Lin Chuangyi to stab home.

Although SIPG’s big names like Oscar, Wu Lei and Odil Ahmedov were all omitted completely, the start of the second half did see the introduction of Brazil international Hulk, but the hosts refused to be overawed.

And, eight minutes after the hour mark, they netted what proved to be the winner as Jai Ingham found space at the back post to meet Terry Antonis’ searching lofted pass with a perfectly-guided header into the back of the net.

Over at the Todoroki Athletics Stadium, second-placed Ulsan Hyundai came from two goals down to deny bottom side Kawasaki Frontale a first win of the campaign in a 2-2 draw.

There was less than two minutes on the clock when the J1 League outfit opened the scoring; Yuto Suzuki netting with a fine first-time effort on the rebound after Manabu Saito’s initial shot had been saved by Jo Su-huk.

Two minutes before halftime, Kawasaki looked firmly on course for victory as Tatsuya Hasegawa doubled their tally with a left-footed drive from the edge of the box that took a wicked deflection past a hapless Jo.

However, the visitors reduced the deficit in the 47th minute when a corner was flicked on by Jeong Jae-yong and Park Yong-woo was on hand to guide a header home from close range.

Just three minutes later, Kim In-sung’s right-wing cross reached Lee Yeong-jae, who advanced into the box before finding the bottom corner with a deflected effort to earn Ulsan a share of the spoils.