Honors even in Shanghai

Source:AFP Published: 2017/9/27 22:58:40

Hulk hits cracker in semifinal stalemate

Shanghai SIPG striker Hulk takes a free kick against Urawa Red Diamonds on Wednesday in Shanghai. Photo: VCG

Brazilian striker Hulk hit his ninth goal in the Asian Champions League this season but Shanghai SIPG failed to take their chances in a 1-1 semifinal stalemate with Urawa Red Diamonds on Wednesday.

Andre Villas-Boas' side will travel to Japan for the second leg on October 18 still very much in the tie, but they could easily have been out of sight.

As has been the case so many times this season, the burly Hulk was Shanghai's ­major threat, while former Chelsea star Oscar struck a post.

The hosts wasted the first chance of the game when Hulk and fellow Brazilian forward ­Elkeson got in each other's way in slapstick fashion in the 10th minute.

Five minutes later it was 1-0 and again Hulk - leading scorer in the Asian Champions League - was on the scoresheet, blasting the ball into the bottom corner from outside the box.

Shanghai, who are pushing for a domestic and continental treble, then went close through Elkeson as they dominated.

But the Chinese Super League side's players often look suspect in defense and missing two from their regular backline and their No.1 goalkeeper, all suspended, they allowed Urawa to equalize with their first opportunity on 28 minutes.

Yosuke Kashiwagi did the damage, nipping in first time on the half-volley to stun the majority of the more than 30,000 at Shanghai Stadium.

If the hosts were shaky at the back, so were the visitors, who were playing in their away strip of marker-pen fluorescent yellow.

Oscar, Shanghai's Asian-­record 60 million euro ($70 million) signing, had two decent chances just before the break as SIPG cranked up the pressure.

The second period began as the first ended, Shanghai enjoying the possession and chances but Urawa threatening sporadically on the break.

Oscar's nearly night was summed up on 68 minutes when his free kick bounced off a post.

Wu Lei then had a chance to win it for Shanghai late on but fizzed his effort just wide, and the draw - the first for each side in this year's competition - means the tie is either side's for the taking when the second leg takes place in Saitama.

In the other semifinal, on Tuesday, Saudi giants Al Hilal took a giant step toward the final with a 4-0 thrashing of Iran's Persepolis.

Syrian star Omar Kharbin led the way with his hat trick, while veteran Yasir al-Shahrani was also on target as Al Hilal toyed with their Iranian rivals to put themselves in contention for their third continental title, after winning the event in 1991 and 2000.

The two sides will meet on October 17 in the second leg, but the Saudis will be tempted to celebrate their spot in the ­final ahead of the official formalities.

Posted in: SOCCER

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