'Passive' first-half display cost us, says Hulk
Shanghai: Two-goal hero Hulk rued Shanghai SIPG's slow start to Tuesday's 2019 AFC Champions League quarter-final first leg that allowed visitors Urawa Red Diamonds to score twice, despite the hosts eventually fighting back to finish the match 2-2 at Shanghai Stadium.
At half-time, Shanghai SIPG were facing the end of their proud unbeaten home record that had stretched to 19 matches in the AFC Champions League.
Two goals down after an early strike from Tomoaki Makino and Shinzo Koroki's sixth of the tournament on the half hour mark, the Chinese Super League side's best-laid plays looked in disarray after defensive errors.
But with a front three of Hulk, Marko Arnautovic and Oscar, the hosts had the firepower to come back into the tie following the interval.
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Former Chelsea star Oscar's mazy dribble drew a foul from compatriot Mauricio Antonio inside the area to allow Hulk to convert from the spot to reduce the deficit, and with 19 minutes remaining the same player was penalised for a handball and Hulk emphatically slammed home his second of the night.
Nevertheless, Hulk admitted that the damage had already been done with two vital away goals conceded.
"It was a very difficult game for us as we went 2-0 down early on and we were very passive in our play," said the 33-year-old, who netted his fifth and sixth goals of the campaign to restore parity.
"Although we came back in the second half and were able to equalise, it's a shame we were in the situation we were in and weren't able to take more of our opportunities.
"Now we have to focus all our efforts on the second leg."
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
While the two away goals conceded is a blow, just as costly could well be the yellow card Hulk received in first half stoppage time which will see him ruled out of the match at Saitama Stadium in three weeks time.
"It's a shame that I picked up a yellow card and won't be able to take part," admitted Hulk.
"But anything can happen in the second leg. I am sure my teammates will put on a positive display.
"We believe we can go and get the win."
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