South Korea Asia Champions League
Japanese Kawasaki Frontale' Kyohei Noborizato, right, fights for the ball against South Korean Ulsan Hyundai FC' Lee Dong-jun during the AFC Champions League in Ulsan, South Korea, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. (Kim Yong-tae/Yonhap via AP)
soccer

Ulsan beats Kawasaki Frontale in Asian Champions League

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South Korean team Ulsan Horang-i kept its hopes alive for a second consecutive Asian Champions League title on Tuesday by beating Kawasaki Frontale 3-2 in a penalty shootout to reach the quarterfinals.

With the score 0-0 after 120 minutes at an empty Ulsan World Cup Stadium, Yoon Bitgaram scored the decisive spot kick for two-time winner Ulsan with Akihiro Ienaga, Joao Schmidt and Tatsuya Hasegawa all failing to convert for the Japanese champions.

“We didn’t give up and kept going until the end and kept our concentration and got the win,” said Ulsan coach Hong Myung-bo, who was captain of the South Korea team that reached the semifinals of the 2002 World Cup.

It was a dramatic end to an uninspiring game between two continental heavyweights. With little action in the first 90 minutes, there were a few chances in extra time. Yoon shot just over from the edge of the area and at the end of the first period, Kei Chinen’s header produced a leaping save from Ulsan goalkeeper Cho Hyun-woo.

Ulsan came the closest when Kim Ji-hyun headed against the post in the final seconds.

“It was a tough game especially in the first half,” said Kawasaki coach Toru Oniki. “The players gave their all and we improved as the game progressed but could not get the goal.”

There were more goals in the earlier game between Japanese and Korean clubs. Nagoya Grampus came back from behind to defeat Daegu FC 4-2 with a hat trick from Polish striker Jakub Swierczok.

On Monday night, 2019 champion Al-Hilal of Saudi Arabia defeated Iran’s Esteghlal 2-0 in Doha, Qatar.

Seven minutes before the break, Matheus Pereira, signed by Al-Hilal from English club West Bromwich Albion, found Bafetimbi Gomis in the area and the former French international chipped the ball into the net.

Ten minutes after the restart, former Porto striker Moussa Marega fed Salem Al-Dawsari and the Saudi international sealed the win.

The quarterfinals will be played in October. The final is Nov 23.

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The loss of Tanaka and Mitoma, seems to have hurt frontale flow, disappointed for them, but at least they will be back into next season again.

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