Group H: Ulsan Hyundai FC (KOR) 1-0 Sydney FC (AUS)
Ulsan: Mix Diskerud’s cheeky backheel earned Ulsan Hyundai a narrow 1-0 win over Sydney FC on Tuesday that ensured the 2012 champions will progress to the knockout rounds of the 2019 AFC Champions League from Group H.
The three points earned from Ulsan’s third win of the group phase mean Kim Do-hoon’s side cannot finish outside the top two places and they will advance to the Round of 16, while Sydney FC crash out.
Diskerud’s goal came 14 minutes into an even second half when the United States international’s quick thinking allowed him to score after the ball had been deflected into his path in the penalty area, and his improvised finish gave Andrew Redmayne no chance in the Sydney goal.
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It was a bitter blow for a Sydney side that needed a win to haul themselves into contention for a place in the next phase of the competition and who had dictated the tempo of much of the first half, with Anthony Caceres impressive in midfield and Michael Zullo a threat down the left as Steve Corica’s side camped out in Ulsan territory.
Zullo’s crossing twice threatened to unlock the home defence in the opening 45 minutes with the winger’s centre eventually finding Paulo Retre 15 minutes into the game, only for his shot to be skied off target.
Midway through the half, Zullo was to the fore again, this time providing the cross from which Reza Goochannejhad headed over the bar.
Ulsan looked short of the form they have shown throughout the group phase, but Kim’s side still created chances; Junior Negrao’s header was steered just wide soon after Retre’s opportunity while Redmayne moved sharply to his right to deny Kim Bo-kyung four minutes before the interval.
Zullo continued to cause the Ulsan defence problems after the interval, with his centre from the left finding Adam Le Fondre’s head six minutes into the half only for the Englishman’s effort to fly wide of Oh Seung-hoon’s goal.
Ulsan pressed forward with captain Park Jo-hoo denied by Redmayne’s reactions three minutes before Diskerud put Ulsan in front while at the other end Le Fondre could have levelled the scores in the 64th minute, but he fired his shot straight at Oh.
Substitute Daniel Da Silva also went close, forcing Oh into making a save with his feet as Ulsan held on to take the win and secure their spot in the knockout rounds.
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