Australian club Adelaide United reached the quarterfinals of the Asian Champions League with a 1-0 win over Nagoya Grampus of Japan on Tuesday, while Uzbek team Bunyodkor beat 2010 champion Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma 1-0 to also advance.
Adelaide, hoping to reach the finals for the second time in four years, took the lead courtesy of a first-half strike from Jon McKain in the 41st minute. The hosts’ sturdy defence and some acrobatic saves from goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic then kept Nagoya from scoring.
Galekovic denied Australia striker Josh Kennedy in the 11th minute and saved a header from Nagoya substitute Mu Kanazaki in the 75th.
“It’s indescribable really, but it’s something that we are very proud of,” Adelaide coach Luciano Trani.
“For us, it’s just one of those journeys where we want to be part of a winning combination to reach heights that we can be proud of with our moments of winning tournaments.”
Nagoya coach Dragan Stojkovic said his team’s inability to convert several scoring opportunities proved costly.
“I am not really disappointed,” Stojkovic said.
“We tried to play good football and to get a good result, but obviously we are not good enough in front (of goal). We don’t know how to score a goal and we paid the price.”
Returning to quarters
A second-half penalty from Bunyodkor’s Hayrulla Karimov was enough to send the Uzbek league leaders through to the quarterfinals for the first time in three years.
Seongnam dominated the first half but Bunyodkor came out strongly in the second period and just missed scoring in the 48th minute. Jan Kozak knocked down a cross for an unmarked Lutfulla Turaev, who fired over the crossbar from just inside the box.
Five minutes later, the Uzbek side was awarded a penalty after Lim Jong-eun pulled back Kamoliddin Murzoev as he attempted to get past the Seongnam defender. Lim was booked and Karimov fired the ball into the bottom left corner of the net.
“In the first half, we were unable to control the game but we changed our play at the start of the second half and got the crucial goal”
Bunyodkor coach Mirdjalal Kasimov
“In the first half, we were unable to control the game but we changed our play at the start of the second half and got the crucial goal,” Bunyodkor coach Kasimov said.
“After we got the goal, I thought that we defended very well. It was a tough game but the players concentrated very well because they knew that it was a one-off knockout match.”
Seongnam coach Shin Tae-yong was left to lament his side’s missed opportunities.
This was the first time it had failed to reach the quarterfinals in the past four appearances in the tournament.
“Today I thought that we played well but our finishing was poor,” Shin said.
“We have had problems with our finishing, not only in the AFC Champions League but also in the K-League, and it is something that we will have to work on during our upcoming midseason break.”