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Group H: Shanghai SIPG FC (CHN) 1-0 Kawasaki Frontale (JPN)

Shanghai: Hulk’s late penalty gave Shanghai SIPG a 1-0 victory over luckless Kawasaki Frontale in their Group H clash on Matchday One of the 2019 AFC Champions League on Wednesday.

Frontale quickly took the upper hand and an early effort from Yu Kobayashi was saved before Hidemasa Morita sent a shot wide.

Shanghai were dealt a blow after just six minutes when He Guan was carried off injured to be replaced by Fu Huan.

The visitors continued to take the game to their hosts and Morita again tested Yan Junling from long range in the 12th minute.

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Yet another shot was fired at the Shanghai goal in the 19th minute but Akihiro Ienaga’s 20-yard strike drifted just wide.

Yan Junling came to Shanghai’s rescue in the 29th minute when he tipped over a Tatsuya Hasegawa shot that looked destined for the top corner.

Hulk seized upon a Frontale error in the 33rd minute but his low shot from distance was comfortably saved by Jung Sung-ryong.

The second-half got off to an unfortunate start for the visitors as Kazuaki Mawatari hobbled off with an ankle injury, with Kyohei Noborizato replacing him.

Shanghai soon came close when a corner was headed on by Elkeson. Hulk stretched for the ball at the far post but the Brazilian could only strike the woodwork from inches out.

The away side threatened again in the 60th minute when Ienaga’s deep cross found Hasegawa who headed just wide.

Shanghai then had a golden chance to open the scoring but Cai Huikang could not direct his header on target after the ball had evaded Jung Sung-ryong.

Frontale regained control until, against the run of play, Hulk broke clear from inside his own half. His trickery created space for a shot on goal but Jung Sung-ryong saved brilliantly.

And, having dominated much of the game, the visitors were stunned with two minutes left when Morita’s handball resulted in a penalty for Shanghai and Hulk netted the spot-kick.

Shanghai SIPG now travel to Korea Republic for a clash with Ulsan Hyundai on March 13 and Kawasaki Frontale have a home tie against Sydney FC.

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