Kashima Antlers fend off Hulk and Shanghai SIPG to reach last-eight

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Kashima Antlers lost 2-1 to a Hulk-inspired Shanghai SIPG on Wednesday but are still through to the AFC Champions League quarter-finals with a 4-3 aggregate win.

Although Kashima entered the Round of 16 tie at the Shanghai Stadium leading 3-1 from the first leg, it was the hosts who drew first blood after seven minutes.

Kashima’s failure to clear their lines from an Oscar freekick saw Gen Shoji inadvertently divert the ball into the path of Hulk, who made no mistake in lashing home from close range.

But, three minutes before halftime, the J1 League outfit drew level on the night when a clever reverse pass from Yuma Suzuki released Koki Anzai, whose low cross was guided into the back of the net by an audacious flick from Shoma Doi.

SIPG reclaimed the lead with nine minutes remaining to set up a grandstand finish when Hulk drilled a penalty under the despairing dive of Kwoun Sun-tae, after Shoji was apparently harshly penalised for handball inside the area.

Still, despite creating a handful of excellent chances throughout the 90 minutes, the Chinese Super League giants were just unable to do enough as Kwoun played a pivotal role in securing Kashima’s passage into the last eight.

SHANGHAI SIPG: Yan Junling, Fu Huan, He Guan, Shi Ke, Wang Shenchao (Yu Hai 46’), Cai Huikang (Li Shenglong 46’), Odil Ahmedov, Oscar, Wu Lei, Lu Wenjun (Zhang Yi 73’), Hulk.

KASHIMA ANTLERS: Kwoun Sun-tae, Daigo Nishi, Naomichi Ueda, Gen Shoji, Koki Anzai, Ryota Nagaki, Leo Silva, Shoma Doi (Mitsuo Ogasawara 78’), Yasushi Endo (Hiroki Abe 68’), Yuma Suzuki, Mu Kanazaki (Tomoya Inukai 89’).