Al Ittihad and Jeonbuk advance to semis

Saudi Arabia's Al Ittihad advance to AFC Champions League top four on aggregate and join Jeonbuk Motors who beat Cerezo.

    Al Ittihad, who progressed 3-2 on aggregate will face Jeonbuk, 9-5 winners on aggregate, in the semis [AFP]

    Lee Dong-Gook scored four as South Korea's Jeonbuk Motors dismantled Japanese rivals Cerezo Osaka 6-1 on Tuesday to advance to the last four of the Asian Champions League.

    But the night ended in disappointment for fellow K-Leaguers Seoul FC who managed just a solitary goal in their bid to overturn a 3-1 deficit in their quarter-final against Saudi side Al-Ittihad.

    Trailing 4-3 from the first-leg, Jeonbuk dominated throughout as they dispelled last week's crushing away loss to Cerezo with a scintillating second-half performance in Jeonju.

    Before the game the Koreans' coach Choi Kang-Hee had urged his players to banish the memory of defeat in Osaka - a game which they led three times - and his team responded with a barrage of goals to take a 9-5 aggregate victory.

    Jeonbuk had to wait until the half-hour mark to break the deadlock with a goal from Brazilian star Eninho, who latched on to a sweetly-timed Luiz Henrique pass and drilled a shot beyond the Cerezo goalkeeper Kim Jin-Hyeon.

    The goal sparked Lee into action. The South Korean international and former Middlesbrough striker opened his account early in the second-half heading home from a corner.

    He doubled his tally on 55 minutes with a 25-yard effort squirming under Kim, and completed his hat-trick less than 10 minutes later with a powerful volley from the edge of the box which deflected beyond the unfortunate goalkeeper.

    His fourth came in stoppage time, after attacking midfielder Kim Dong-Chan had added a fifth for the rampant home side, capping a good day's work for the prolific veteran striker.

    Cerezo, who lie mid-table in the J-League, scored a consolation goal with around 20 minutes to go after Rui Komatsu neatly finished a defence-splitting Fabio Lopes pass.

    Dominant Al-Ittihad

    In Seoul, a late Mauricio Molina strike was not enough to lift the home side into the semis at the expense of Saudi giants Al-Ittihad, as the hosts went out of the tournament 3-2 on aggregate after a laboured display.

    Aware Seoul would have to take the game to them, it was Al-Ittihad who looked more likely to score early on with Sultan Al-Numare drawing a fine save after 12 minutes from Kim Yong-Dae.

    Seoul gradually took control, although they failed to convert possession into clear-cut chances as their increasingly desperate attacks foundered against a disciplined Al-Ittihad defence.

    Colombian Molina finally broke the stalemate with seven minutes to go, picking up the ball at the edge of the box before curling a sweet shot into the top-right of the net.

    The Saudis hung on for a 3-2 aggregate win, setting up a semi-final clash with Jeonbuk.

    Suwon Bluewings, who complete the Korean quarter-final contingent, face a tricky away date in Iran on Wednesday against last year's runners' up Zobahan after playing out a 1-1 draw in Korea.

    In Wednesday's other tie, Iran's Sepahan have it all to do after they were stripped of their win against Qatari outfit Al Sadd and handed a 3-0 forfeit for fielding an ineligible player in their quarter-final first-leg.

    The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) erased Sepahan's 1-0 first-leg victory and replaced it with a 3-0 defeat late on Monday. The teams will play the second leg in Doha.

    SOURCE: AFP


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