Jeju United clinch AFC Champions League knockout berth with win
Angela Jung, May 9, 2017, 9:26 a.m.
South Korean outfit Jeju United clinched a knockout berth at the top Asian club football competition with a win Tuesday. Jeju defeated Gamba Osaka 2-0 in their final Group H match at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League. Chung Woon opened the scoring in the 29th minute at Jeju World Cup Stadium in Seogwipo, Jeju Island, and Hwang Il-su added the second goal in the second half for the hosts.
With the victory, Jeju, currently the leaders in the domestic K League Classic, finished second in Group H with 10 points on three wins, one draw and two losses. Chinese club Jiangsu Suning had already locked down the first place in the group with 12 points before their match against Adelaide United later Tuesday.
Jeju are also the only South Korean side to reach the knockout stage this year. Suwon Samsung Bluewings ended in a 2-2 draw against Guangzhou Evergrande to miss out on a ticket out of Group G. Ulsan Hyundai in Group E and FC Seoul in Group F were already eliminated after last week's play.
Jeju and Gamba traded some early chances, before Chung put the home side on the board near the half-hour mark. Marcelo Toscano set him up at the center of the box, and Chung sent it to the top left corner past goalkeeper Masaaki Higashiguchi.
Hwang then doubled the lead in the 69th. He took a pass from Kwon Soon-hyung on a fast break and fired one to the bottom right corner from outside the box.
Gamba's repeated attempts to end Jeju's clean sheet bid proved futile, as Jeju defenders kept getting into shooting lanes and custodian Kim Ho-jun stood tall in the net.
Kim denied Yasuhito Endo from outside the box in the 76th. Following a corner moments later, Shu Kurata's left-footed shot from close range just missed to the left.
Jeju started the day in second place in Group H with seven points, five back of Jiangsu. Adelaide United were two back of Jeju before facing Jiangsu in their finale.
A combination of a Jeju loss and a Adelaide loss or draw would also have sent the South Korean club into the round of 16. But the win by Jeju made all that number crunching unnecessary.
This is only Jeju's second appearance in the AFC Champions League. They were sent home from the group stage in 2011.
Suwon blew their chance to join Jeju in the round of 16.
Suwon played Guangzhou Evergrande to a 2-2 draw in the final Group G contest at Tianhe Stadium in Guangzhou, China. Suwon scored just nine minutes into the match, but Guangzhou rallied with two consecutive goals to snatch the lead. Suwon got a late equalizer but fell short of a win that would have sent them to the knockout phase.
Suwon began the day in second place in Group G with eight points, one behind Guangzhou. Kawasaki Frontale were sitting one point back of Suwon in third, but the Japanese club defeated Eastern 4-0 Tuesday to leapfrog Suwon into second place.
A draw would have been enough for Suwon to advance if Kawasaki and Eastern also ended in a draw. But Kawasaki had little trouble beating up on the only winless club in Group G.
Yeom Ki-hun got Suwon's first goal with his patented left-foot shot, after taking a feed from Jang Ho-ik at the center of the box.
Ricardo Goulart evened the score for Guangzhou in the 17th, firing one home from outside the box to the bottom left corner.
Goulart put Guangzhou ahead in the 68th, heading in a Gao Lin cross from the center of the box.
Kim Jong-woo rekindled Suwon's fading hopes with an 80th minute equalizer, set up by Lee Jong-sun from outside the box. But that would be Suwon's final goal of the evening.
FC Seoul and Ulsan Hyundai will play out the string in final group contests Wednesday.