Oscar seals Asian quarter-final for China’s SIPG

Oscar buried the winning spot-kick as the Chinese champions prevailed 5-3 on penalties. (AFP)
Updated 26 June 2019

Oscar seals Asian quarter-final for China’s SIPG

  • They join two-time winners Guangzhou Evergrande and defending champions Kashima Antlers, who both went through on Tuesday

SEOUL, South Korea: Former Chelsea star Oscar held his nerve to seal a penalty shootout as Shanghai SIPG came from behind to beat Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and reach the Asian Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday.
Oscar buried the winning spot-kick as the Chinese champions prevailed 5-3 on penalties in a wet Jeonju after the second leg finished at 1-1 after extra time and 2-2 on aggregate.
SIPG, into the last eight for the third time, qualified alongside Japan’s Urawa Reds who dismantled Ulsan Hyundai 3-0 away to overturn a 2-1 deficit from the first leg.
They join two-time winners Guangzhou Evergrande and defending champions Kashima Antlers, who both went through on Tuesday.
Jeonbuk held the advantage thanks to their away goal in last week’s 1-1 first leg in Shanghai, and the hosts took a grip on the tie when Kim Shin-wook scored within the first half-hour.
The towering South Korea international stretched his long right leg to reach a volley ahead of SIPG’s Wei Zhen after Son Jun-ho’s dinked cross into the box.
At the other end Brazil international Hulk, leading a star-studded front line for well-heeled SIPG, saw a half-volley tipped wide by Jeonbuk goalkeeper Song Beom-keun.
SIPG’s Brazilian attack nearly grabbed the equalizer on 72 minutes when Hulk slammed a shot against the post, Elkeson played the ball back in and Oscar skied his shot over the bar.
But the South American trio finally got the equalizer, with the help of some kindly officiating, with 10 minutes to go.
Oscar’s cross appeared to have gone out when Elkeson nodded it back in for Hulk to finish, but the goal was allowed to stand after the assistant referee ruled the ball was kept in play.
In the first period of extra time, Jeonbuk coach Jose Morais had his head in his hands when Kim put an easy header wide, and Hulk nearly snatched it at the end of the second added period when he stabbed a shot against the bar.
Seconds later, the match was briefly halted for a melee when Jeonbuk’s Moon Seon-min was sent off for lashing out at Li Shenglong and the teams were drawn into an ugly shoving match.
But SIPG quickly regained their composure for the shootout, where Hulk, Elkeson, Odil Ahmedov, Wang Shenchao and Oscar were all on target, while Yan Junling saved from Korean veteran Lee Dong-gook.
In Ulsan, the home side only needed to avoid defeat to Urawa after last week’s 2-1 away win but they were up against it when Shinzo Koroki headed in Tomoya Ugajin’s cross just before half-time.
With 10 minutes to go, Koroki stole in at the far post for another header before Ewerton wrapped it up for the two-time Asian champions in the 87th minute.

World number five Medvedev topbills first international tennis tournament in the Kingdom

Updated 19 November 2019

World number five Medvedev topbills first international tennis tournament in the Kingdom

DUBAI: Some of the greatest men’s players on the planet can use the upcoming $3 million Diriyah Tennis Cup in Saudi Arabia as ideal preparation for the Australia Open, says one of its big-name competitors.

World number five Russia’s Daniil Medvedev, is one of six confirmed names heading to the Diriyah Arena in the UNESCO world heritage site for the first international tennis tournament to be staged in the Kingdom, presented by Saudi Aramco on December 12 to and 14.

It has been a breakthrough year for the fan favorite, reaching six consecutive tournament finals, including one at the 2019 US Open and two at Masters 1000 events with a career high ranking of number 4.

Now Medvedev believes the competitive nature of the Diriyah Tennis Cup can provide an ideal platform to build on that success, especially with the first Grand Slam event of 2020, the Australian Open taking place a little more than a month after the Saudi tournament.

Medvedev said: “Saudi will be a big part of my preparation for the new season. Coming to Saudi the heat and conditions will be similar to Australia. It will be a great test for us.

“It’s in our pre-season so we’ll want to get that match time in to prepare for the new season – but the fans should expect us to fight hard like in any tournament. It will be competitive and hopefully they’ll be lots of fans coming to support us there.

“Hopefully I can play some great tennis, help the country raise awareness of the sport and inspire people to play. Looking at the players confirmed it’s a really great field.

“I’ve heard a lot of good things about Saudi Arabia. I’m excited to promote tennis there especially as it’s the first tournament.

The tournament is part of the Diriyah Season, an epic month of showcase sports events being hosted by the GSA. 

The Diriyah Tennis Cup showdown has confirmed six leading players to date for the inaugural tournament. As well as Medvedev this includes three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland.

World number 12, Fabio Fogini, who was the first Italian to win an ATP Masters 1000 title this year in Monte Carlo and highly-rated David Goffin (Belgium), the former world number 7 will also present in Diriyah.

The big-serving American John Isner, with over 10,000 aces on tour, and five-time ATP champion Lucas Pouille of France, an Australian Open semi-finalist this year complete the current line-up. Officials will name the final two players in the coming weeks.

Medvedev will go into tournament with confidence after a great year, in the past week missed out on closing rounds of the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals which also included another epic showdown with World Number One, Rafael Nadal in London.

He said: “It’s been a great year for me, especially the second half. The highlights were in Washington and then finishing in Shanghai and winning that title. With six titles and two of them Masters titles, it wasn’t something I expected if I’m honest with you.

The 23-year-old Russian also gave some insight into what it has taken to reach the top echelon of the men’s game, as he closes in on ‘The Big Three’; namely Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. 

“To be successful in tennis you need to fight hard and play with passion. You need to fight hard on every single point. Look back on the times it doesn’t go well and always try to improve and always get better. Self-reflection is important. That might sound a bit tough for the kids, but that’s what it takes to break through."

Tickets are now available at www.diriyahseason.sa with nine different ticket categories available to suit all budgets – the perfect event for groups of friends and families.

The Diriyah Tennis Cup is taking place at the 15,000-seater Diriyah Arena being purpose built at the ancient site of the Kingdom’s first capital, known as the home of kings and heroes. The tournament will happen just a week after the same venue plays host to the Clash On The Dunes, the world heavyweight title fight between Andy Ruiz Jr and Anthony Joshua OBE.