Ulsan blow late lead, fail to clinch knockout berth at AFC Champions League

By Yonhap
  • Published : Apr 23, 2019 - 21:12
  • Updated : Apr 23, 2019 - 21:14

South Korea's Ulsan Hyundai FC squandered a late lead and fell just short of clinching a knockout spot in the top continental club football competition on Tuesday.

Ulsan played Kawasaki Frontale to a 2-2 draw n Group H action at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League at Todoroki Athletics Stadium in Kawasaki, Japan.

Ulsan blew a 2-1 lead in the 82nd minute when Kei Chinen scored the equalizer for Kawasaki. A victory would have given Ulsan 10 points on three wins and a draw, along with a place in the round of 16 regardless of their results in the two remaining matches.

In this AFP photo, Kim In-sung of Ulsan Hyundai FC jumps over Manabu Saito of Kawasaki Frontale during their Group H match in the Asian Football Confederation Champions League at Todoroki Athletics Stadium in Kawasaki, Japan, on April 23, 2019. (Yonhap)

Ulsan still lead Group H with eight points. They will next face Sydney FC at home in Ulsan, 400 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on May 7.

The top two teams from each of the eight groups will advance to the round of 16. The group stage ends on May 22.

Yu Kobayashi opened the scoring for Kawasaki in the eighth minute, beating goalkeeper Oh Seung-hoon from a sharp angle from the right side of the box.

Midfielder Park Yong-woo netted the tying goal for Ulsan in the 17th minute, when he volleyed home a corner kick by Sin Jin-ho. Junior Negrao completed Ulsan's comeback 14 minutes later. The Brazilian forward took a pass from Kim In-sung at the top of the arc and dribbled past three defenders before firing a shot that went in off the hands of goalkeeper Jung Sung-ryong.

Ulsan dodged a couple of bullets later. In the 44th minute, Manabu Saito fired a cannon from well outside the box that bounced just right of the net. Just past the hour mark, Chinen shot one with his left foot from the arc and saw it bounce right into Oh's arms.

Chinen finally solved Oh in the 82nd minute. Kobayashi shot one from just inside the box and Oh gave up a fat rebound. Both Chinen and Leandro Damiao charged at the loose ball, and Chinen got there just ahead of his teammate and poked the ball into the open net.

Ulsan caught another break during added time, as Kobayashi, left wide open following a corner kick, rang a volley off the left post.

Joo Min-kyu's last-gasp attempt in the dying seconds was easily saved by Jung, as the match ended in a 2-2 draw.