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Leagues: Chinese Super League

Magath’s Shandong crash out of AFC Champions League

Jinan (China) (AFP) – FC Seoul sent Felix Magath’s Shandong Luneng crashing out of the AFC Champions League and ended Chinese interest in the competition as they powered into the semi-finals on Wednesday.

Substitute Yun Ju-Tae provided the coup de grace on 83 minutes, sealing a 1-1 draw in the second leg after Walter Montillo’s opener on 59 minutes had raised hopes among Shandong’s home fans.

After Seoul won the first leg 3-1, they ran out 4-2 aggregate winners and completed another Korean victory over Chinese opposition after Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors thrashed Shanghai SIPG 5-0 on Tuesday.

The result also denies China a third Champions League title in four seasons, after Guangzhou Evergrande won in 2013 and 2015, despite Chinese clubs’ large-scale spending spree on players and coaches this year.

Ex-Bayern Munich and Fulham manager Magath was brought in mid-campaign to replace former Brazil boss Mano Menezes, but he couldn’t prevent an all-Korean semi-final with FC Seoul now set to face Jeonbuk later this month.

The visitors were content to sit back and let Shandong make the running in a first period which saw little goalmouth action until a frantic few minutes just before half-time.

Shandong’s Montillo flashed a free-kick wide on 44 minutes and in first-half injury time, Seoul’s ex-Arsenal forward Park Chu-Young shot tamely when one-on-one with goalkeeper Wang Dalei.

Five minutes after the break, Shandong’s star signing Graziano Pelle came close to breaking the deadlock but the ex-Southampton striker put his glancing header wide.

It was Shandong stand-out Montillo who deservedly grabbed the opener when he nodded home Hao Junmin’s cross on 59 minutes to put Shandong one goal away from the semis.

Hao whipped a turn-and-shot just over the crossbar, but Yun then broke Chinese hearts when he finished from close range after Dejan Damjanovic’s perfectly placed cushion-volley.

FC Seoul completed the win without even turning to tournament top-scorer Adriano, who is one away from a record-equalling 13 goals but remained on the bench.

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