SAITAMA: Jeonbuk Motors got off to a flying start in the AFC Champions League last 16 on Wednesday, scoring in the first minute in Shanghai before being pegged back by SIPG in a 1-1 draw.
On a good night for South Korean sides, Ulsan came from a goal down to stun Urawa Red Diamonds 2-1 in Saitama in the earlier first-leg encounter.
Jeonbuk silenced the sea of red-clad supporters in the Shanghai Stadium in the opening seconds when Moon Seon-min stole in to lift Lim Seon-yeong’s through ball over onrushing goalkeeper Yan Junling.
In a bruising encounter between the champions of China and South Korea, Shanghai SIPG’s Brazilian imports Oscar, Hulk and Elkeson created a string of chances, though Jeonbuk carried a potent threat on the break.
Hulk went close twice before the home side deservedly levelled in the 39th minute.
Right wing-back Wang Shenchao found himself in space in the center of the box as he got on the end of Yu Hai’s cross and equalized with a neat header.
Hulk rampaged through in first-half stoppage time with a chance to put SIPG in front after being fed by Elkeson’s header.
But after rounding goalkeeper Song Beom-Keun the angle was too tight and the burly striker’s shot agonizingly hit the post and rebounded to safety.
The second half was more scrappy and Jeonbuk will be the happier of the two sides after claiming a draw and an away goal ahead of the second leg in Jeonju next Wednesday.
Earlier, away goals from Joo Min-kyu and Hwang Il-su gave Ulsan a precious 2-1 win against Urawa Reds to take back to Korea for next week’s second leg.
In a battle of former Asian champions, Urawa dominated in the first half and were rewarded for their efforts when a delightfully chipped ball from Takuya Aoki in the 37th minute was met by Kenyu Sugimoto’s glancing header.
Ulsan had barely threatened till that point, but it took them just five minutes to get back on terms.
A mistake in midfield enabled the lively Lee Keun-ho to burst down the left flank and drive in a cross that was met by a powerful headed finish from Joo.
The goal lifted the visitors and the lively goal provider Lee twice went close to putting Ulsan ahead after the break.
First a rasping volley from the edge of the box flew just wide then a near-post flick found the side netting.
In the 80th minute substitute Hwang ran almost unopposed to the edge of the box before drilling home a left-foot shot for the winner.
Junior Negrao should have made it three shortly after, but somehow cleared the crossbar from close range.