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Magath says Shandong ‘defended Chinese honor’

Beijing (AFP) – Felix Magath said Shandong Luneng “defended the honour of Chinese football” in their battling defeat to FC Seoul, which ended Chinese interest in the AFC Champions League.

Shandong, 3-1 down after the quarter-final’s first leg, dominated the return game in Jinan, which they drew 1-1 on Wednesday to exit with their pride intact.

It came a day after Sven-Goran Eriksson’s Shanghai SIPG were smashed 5-0 by Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, ensuring an all-Korean semi-final later this month.

However, the defeats denied big-spending China a third Asian title in four seasons after Guangzhou Evergrande lifted the Champions League trophy in 2013 and 2015.

“Unfortunately we are eliminated,” said ex-Bayern Munich and Fulham boss Magath, according to the Asian Football Confederation website.

“But we defended the honour of Chinese football, and can leave the competition with our head up.

“I have been saying so many times that my reason to be here is to win titles with Shandong. If we win the domestic championship, of course we will be back in the AFC Champions League again.”

FC Seoul, who left tournament top-scorer Adriano on the bench, will now take on familiar opposition in the form of fellow Koreans Jeonbuk, the 2006 Asian champions.

“Shandong had a more aggressive style this time compared with their last match and we were in a very difficult situation after they scored first,” said FC Seoul coach Hwang Sun-Hong.

“But as I expected, the players managed to fight back and we are happy about the final scoreline.”

Elsewhere, Qatar’s El Jaish were beneficiaries of Al Nasr’s 3-0 first-leg forfeit for fielding an ineligible player as they won 4-0 on aggregate to set up a semi-final against another UAE side, Al Ain.

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