Kuala Lumpur: In just a few days, Shanghai SIPG will take to the AFC Champions League knockout rounds for the fourth successive year as the last 16 clash against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors sees them maintain their perfect record of advancing from the group stage every time since debuting in 2016.
It has been a remarkable rise for a club that only arrived in China’s top flight in 2013 and have since gone on to to acquire talent of the calibre of Hulk and Oscar, the Brazilian duo who helped inspire them to their maiden Chinese Super League title in 2018 after three successive top-three finishes.
Arguably, however, no one has been more important in their surge to prominence than Wu Lei, who was the league’s top scorer last year before he signed for La Liga side Espanyol at the beginning of 2019 where he has since gone on to become the first player from his country to score in Spain’s top flight.
Shanghai: While Brazilian superstar Oscar may have taken the majority of the plaudits – and the match ball – after Shanghai SIPG’s 5-0 AFC Champions League Group H win over Ulsan Hyundai on Tuesday, for one player it was an extra-special night at Shanghai Stadium.
Needing a win to secure a place in the last 16, Oscar’s first-half brace calmed any nerves among the Chinese Super League champions, before Li Shenglong added a third – his first-ever goal in the competition – to effectively secure the three points and qualification.
Oscar grabbed his hat-trick soon after and Hu Jinghang rounded off the scoring late on as Shanghai progressed to the knockout rounds for the fourth successive year and Li was left with a night to remember.
East Asia Leagues Wrap: Kubo brace keeps FC Tokyo on top
Kuala Lumpur: Ahead of the FIFA International break, the weekend's domestic matches in the East saw plenty of action and entertainment with young star Takefusa Kubo continuing to excite ahead of his 18th birthday.
With the Leagues in Chinese Taipei, Macau and Mongolia having already entered the international break - and the domestic season for Hong Kong, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands already concluded - the focus was on last weekend's fixtures in Japan, Korea Republic and China PR.
Jeonju: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors coach Jose Morais has asked his players to learn the lessons from their 0-0 draw with Buriram United in their final Group G game of the 2019 AFC Champions League as the two-time champions move into the knockout rounds of the Continental championship.
The K League side were unable to break down Buriram’s well-organised back line throughout the 90 minutes at Jeonju World Cup Stadium, but the result mattered little as Morais and his team had already guaranteed themselves top spot in the group.
Paulinho: We played one of our best games of the season
Guangzhou: Paulinho hailed the fighting performance from Guangzhou Evergrande as the Brazilian scored the game's only goal in a 1-0 win over Daegu FC to secure a place in the 2019 AFC Champions League Round of 16 on Wednesday.
The two-time champions went close to exiting at the Group Stage for just the second time in their proud eight-tournament history, but they were indebted to their former FC Barcelona midfielder once more.
Only victory over visitors Daegu FC would suffice for Fabio Cannavaro's side to leapfrog the Koreans into the runners-up spot in Group F and it was Paulinho's 64th minute intervention that proved to be the difference-maker.