SIPG reaches Champions League last 16

Akin Ienaga of Kawasaki Frontale (C) chases the ball during the AFC Champions League Group F match against Melbourne Victory in Melbourne Tuesday. — AFP

ULSAN, South Korea — A moment of magic from Hulk set up fellow Brazilian Elkeson for the winner as Shanghai SIPG reached the last 16 of the AFC Champions League with a 1-0 here Tuesday.

The burly forward burst past fullback Lee Myung-jae in the 50th minute with power and pace before cutting back the deftest of passes to give the onrushing Elkeson a simple finish.

But the Chinese Super League side had to ride its luck in South Korea as Ulsan squandered a succession of chances after dominating possession in the Group F encounter.

Ulsan will in particular be cursing a crazy couple of minutes that should have seen it go to half-time with at least a one-goal advantage.

Yohei Toyoda shot wide in the 39th minute and within 60 seconds the Japanese striker inexplicably blazed over from just two meters out when it seemed easier to score with the goalmouth gaping.

Two minutes later with the SIPG defense still all at sea Ricard Windbichler found space at the edge of the six-yard box but cannoned a right-foot volley against the crossbar.

Earlier in Group F, Kosta Barbarouses fired home a dramatic last-minute winner to keep Melbourne Victory in the hunt for the last 16 with a 1-0 victory against Kawasaki Frontale.

The teams were deadlocked until the New Zealand winger got on the end of a chest down from Terry Antonis in the 90th minute to smash home with his left foot for Melbourne’s first win of the campaign.

It lifts Victory to five points, level with Ulsan which has a better goal difference, and those two teams are set to clash next in Ulsan on April 4.

Shanghai SIPG is unbeaten on 10 points at the top and guaranteed a place in the knockout stages while Kawasaki, quarter-finalists last year, are bottom with just one point.

“To be fair, I thought we had control of the second half and the persistence of this team, we’re always going to get chances,” Barbarouses told Fox Sports. “We never give up.”

Qualification from Group H is still wide open after leaders Kashima Antlers drew 1-1 at home to Sydney FC Tuesday.

Unbeaten Antlers looked on their way to a third win in four matches this term when Mu Kanazaki’s close-range header gave the Japanese side a 27th-minute lead.

But Sydney clung on to its faint hopes of qualification with 20 minutes to go when Luke Wilkshire’s cross was met firmly by the head of Matt Simon, who equalized from six yards.

The Australian side remains bottom on two points with Kashima topping the group on eight. Second and third-placed Suwon Bluewings and Shanghai Shenhua were playing later Tuesday. — AFP