Adailton fires Tokyo into Asian Champions League last 16

Tokyo’s midfielder Manato Shinada, center,  marks Perth’s forward Bruno Fornaroli  during their AFC Champions League Group F match on  Thursday. (AFP)
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Updated 04 December 2020

Adailton fires Tokyo into Asian Champions League last 16

Adailton fires Tokyo into Asian Champions League last 16

DOHA, Qatar: Brazilian midfielder Adailton scored a brilliant solo goal in the first half as FC Tokyo edged past Perth Glory 1-0 to seal the second round-of-16 spot from Group F in the Asian Champions League on Thursday.

South Korean giants Ulsan Hyundai had already made the cut as guaranteed group winners, leaving FC Tokyo and Shanghai Shenhua scrapping for second place with both teams on seven points from five matches.

But Shanghai Shenhua fell to a crushing 4-1 defeat by Ulsan on Thursday to exit the tournament, while FC Tokyo’s narrow win over Perth Glory helped them maintain their record of qualifying for the knockout phase every year since their continental debut in 2012.

Adailton was in the thick of the action in the very first minute at the Education City Stadium when he went for a spectacular bicycle kick off a cross from Takuya Uchida only to see the ball sail over the goalpost.

But he compensated for that miss in style seven minutes later with a brilliant 30-yard burst down the left flank, scoring with a curling shot past Perth goalkeeper Liam Reddy.

Two minutes later, Adailton found himself in a great position to strike again but his powerful effort from outside the penalty area saw Reddy producing a fine save.

Perth Glory took control of the match in the second half but could not get past the Tokyo defence, ending up at the bottom of the table with just one point from six matches.

FC Tokyo coach Kente Hasegawa said he always had confidence in his team’s abilities.

“Today we are very happy about qualifying for the next round. Some players who didn’t play much before played today and Adailton scored a very good goal,” said Hasegawa.

“We tried to score more goals in the second half but also we knew the result of the other game (Ulsan were leading 2-0 against Shenhua at half time), so we were more comfortable.”

Perth Glory’s Cristian Ola said fatigue was a big factor for his team’s poor show.

“Not happy with the result but happy with our boys’ efforts and display considering it was their fifth game in a short space of time which is not something we are used to,” said Ola.

“Fatigue was our biggest opponent today but congratulations to FC Tokyo.”

Shanghai Shenhua’s defeat by Ulsan Hyundai meant they failed to make the last 16 for the first time since 2006.

Having booked their knockout berth earlier, Ulsan made several changes to their lineup but Park Jeong-in and Lee Sang-heon put them 2-0 ahead at the break.

Bjorn Johnsen then added a second-half brace as the Koreans recorded their fifth straight win.

“After we qualified for the round of 16, I expected a few players might lose concentration but all the players concentrated and played well,” said Ulsan coach Kim Do-hoon.

“We had a lot of young players and they did their job. I asked them to play aggressively with combination play and high press, and they did it all very well.”

Shanghai Shenhua’s Choi Kang-hee said the Covid-19 pandemic meant they faced a number of difficulties in playing the competition.

“We understand it’s a pandemic. It’s a special time, and we have to play in this kind of way, but we hope in the future the tournament won’t be played with such a tight fixture list.”


Man Utd retain top spot after Liverpool stalemate, Spurs sparkle

Man Utd retain top spot after Liverpool stalemate, Spurs sparkle
Updated 18 January 2021

Man Utd retain top spot after Liverpool stalemate, Spurs sparkle

Man Utd retain top spot after Liverpool stalemate, Spurs sparkle
  • It is the first time these two old foes have been involved in a title race together since 2009 when United, then at their peak, held off Liverpool’s challenge

LONDON: Manchester United held onto top spot in the Premier League after grinding out a dour 0-0 draw at title rivals Liverpool, while Tanguy Ndombele’s stunning strike sealed Tottenham’s 3-1 win at Sheffield United on Sunday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side had the better chances in a strangely subdued clash between two of English football’s bitterest rivals.

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker saved well from Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba in the second half, but neither side deserved to win.

United are three points clear of third placed Liverpool and two ahead of second placed Leicester.

United are top after the New Year for the first time since Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013 thanks to nine wins in an 12-match unbeaten run. Leaving Anfield unscathed is a solid result for United as they chase a first title in eight years, but they might feel it was a missed opportunity to pile pressure on injury-hit Liverpool given their recent struggles.

It is the first time these two old foes have been involved in a title race together since 2009 when United, then at their peak, held off Liverpool’s challenge.

But there was little feel of a seismic encounter as both teams largely played with the handbrake on at an empty and silent Anfield.

Liverpool are well short of the dynamic form that carried them to the title last season and the Champions League in 2019.

Jurgen Klopp’s team have now gone four league games without a win and are without a goal in their last three top-flight matches.

Liverpool defender Joel Matip wasn’t fit enough to feature, so Jordan Henderson had to play as a makeshift center-back alongside fellow midfielder Fabinho.

Despite that setback, Liverpool dominated a cautious first half with over 65 percent of the possession.

They lacked a cutting edge in the final third and Roberto Firmino shot wide before Mohamed Salah volleyed over.

It took United 34 minutes to have a shot and they almost took the lead from it as Bruno Fernandes whipped his free-kick inches wide.

In an equally scrappy second half, Fernandes forced a good save from Alisson when his effort from Luke Shaw’s cross was turned away by the Brazilian’s foot.

Thiago Alcantara’s strike was well saved by David De Gea, while Alisson made another fine stop to deny Paul Pogba’s close-range shot.

At Bramall Lane, Tottenham took an early lead through a rare goal from Ivory Coast defender Serge Aurier.

Harry Kane’s 19th goal of the season — the England captain’s fourth in his last six games — increased Tottenham’s advantage before half-time.

David McGoldrick got one back for bottom of the table United in the second half, but Ndombele’s sublime lob, flicked over his shoulder from an acute angle, wrapped up the points.

The wonder-goal was the latest sign of Ndombele turning his Tottenham career around.

The 24-year-old’s fine form is a stark contrast to his struggles in his first season after arriving from Lyon, with Mourinho admitting the player had to change his mindset to get back on track.

“He is incredible. For me sometimes you can score a great goal isolated from your performance. In this case the goal confirmed his performance. It was really, really good,” Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho said.

Fourth placed Tottenham are on a seven-match unbeaten run in all competitions after winning at Bramall Lane for the first time since 1975.

Manchester City host Crystal Palace in Sunday’s late match.