Quarter-final - 1st Leg: Shanghai SIPG FC (CHN) 2-2 Urawa Red Diamonds (JPN)
Shanghai: A pair of penalties from Brazilian striker Hulk saw Shanghai SIPG salvage a 2-2 draw with Urawa Red Diamonds in the first leg of the 2019 AFC Champions League quarter-final at Shanghai Stadium on Tuesday, leaving the tie delicately poised ahead of next month’s second leg.
Urawa took a two-goal lead into the half time break with efforts from Tomoaki Makino and Shinzo Koroki, but Hulk’s brace from the spot in the second 45 minutes leaves the Japanese side with a slender advantage due to the away goals rule going into the second game.
The two-time champions can progress with victory or a scoreless draw at Saitama Stadium on September 17, while a 1-1 draw would also ensure Tsuyoshi Otsuki’s side advance to the last four for the fourth time in the club’s history.
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Urawa, though, will be disappointed not to take more of an advantage into the return fixture after a dominant first half in which the Emperor’s Cup holders took an early lead, which should have been more substantial by the end of the first 45 minutes.
Makino gave Urawa the perfect start with fewer than three minutes on the clock, capitalising on a handling error from China goalkeeper Yan Junling.
Kazuki Nagawasa clipped his free-kick deep into the home side’s penalty area but, as Yan rose to claim the ball over the head of Makino, the SIPG goalkeeper fumbled his attempted take, leaving the Japanese defender to calmly slot into an empty net.
The early goal rattled the hosts and Urawa looked to take full advantage of their startled opponents, with Makino going close again when he steered his header goalward. Yan was equal to the task on this occasion.
FULL-TIME | Shanghai SIPG 🇨🇳 2-2 @REDSOFFICIAL 🇯🇵— AFC Champions League (@TheAFCCL) August 27, 2019
⚖ The hosts stage a 2⃣nd half comeback as two penalties from Hulk secure a 2-2 draw in the quarter-final 1⃣st leg to leave this one in the balance 👏#SHAvURA #ACL2019 pic.twitter.com/FumDw9SRQT
On the half hour mark, though, Urawa claimed their second. Nagasawa was again the instigator, clipping a curling pass over the heads of the SIPG defence that faded into the path of Koroki, and he slipped his shot under Yan to double the lead.
There could have been more for the Japanese side, as Nagasawa was denied by Yan and Mauricio Antonio headed wide with SIPG having rarely threatened at the other end throughout the first 45 minutes.
That was to change in the second half, however, with Oscar – who had been anonymous in the opening period – the dominant figure right from the restart.
It was the former Chelsea star who was brought down by Mauricio for the penalty from which Hulk levelled the scores four minutes into the half and, just two minutes later, Oscar released his compatriot into the area, only for his shot to smash back off Shusaku Nishikawa’s right post.
Just as Urawa looked to have weathered the worst of the second half onslaught and the noise inside the Shanghai Stadium was dropping, SIPG were back on level terms. Referee Mohammad Abdulla Hassan judged Mauricio had handled inside the area and Hulk slammed the ball home from 12 yards via the underside of the crossbar to finally restore parity.
Both sides pushed for the winning goal but, on an energy-sapping evening, the game eventually petered out to leave the tie finely poised with another 90 minutes remaining.
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