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Playoff: Kaya FC-Iloilo beat Shanghai Port FC to create AFC Champions League history

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Bangkok: Kaya FC-Iloilo defeated Shanghai Port FC 1-0 at the Pathum Thani Stadium in Bangkok on Wednesday to book a place in the AFC Champions League group stage for the first time.

The Philippines side advanced to Group F, where they will open their campaign against Thailand’s BG Pathum United on Saturday, with 2020 AFC Champions League winners Ulsan Hyundai FC of Korea Republic and Vietnam’s Viettel FC also in the group.

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Kaya FC’s eagerness to impress in their first-ever match in the AFC Champions League was clear as they kicked off the tie exuberantly and had the first sight on goal in the seventh minute.

Ryo Fujii fired a volley from inside the box after the Shanghai defence failed to properly clear Daizo Horikoshi’s corner kick, but couldn’t keep his effort on target, before skipper Jovin Bedic came close six minutes later with his strike which rebounded off the left post.

The Iloilo-based club’s hard work paid off in the 16th minute when Audie Menzi rose highest to head home Horikoshi’s curling corner to take the lead against the Chinese Super League club.

Shanghai Port - previously known as Shanghai SIPG - were visibly more aggressive after conceding the opening goal and even dominated possession, but found the Kaya FC defence hard to breach.

When they did get through, Kaya FC goalkeeper Louie Casas denied them - pulling off a fine save a minute into added time to prevent Gao Haisheng’s thundering effort from range.

Kaya FC maintained their high tempo approach in the second half and came close to doubling their advantage four minutes in with Bedic connecting to Horikoshi’s corner, but the skipper saw his effort sail over the post.

In an attempt to get back into the match, Shanghai Port head coach Takayuki Kaneko sent on Huang Zhenfei and Jian Tianzi, with the former nearly equalising for the East Asians within seconds but custodian Casas was alert to the danger.

Shanghai Port had a great chance to draw level in the 72nd minute when a counter attack found the Kaya FC defence napping, but substitute Huang was unable to get his shot on target from point-blank range as the Philippines side held on to create history.

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