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Six-shooters Ulsan storm into Champions League last 16

Hong Kong (AFP) – South Korea’s Ulsan Hyundai FC powered into the knockout stages of the AFC Champions League Wednesday with a 6-2 demolition of Melbourne Victory, who crashed out.

Ulsan joined the already qualified Shanghai SIPG in the knockout stages from Group F after the Australian side conceded a comical goal to open the floodgates.

Just 12 minutes had elapsed when Junior Negrao threw out a hopeful boot at a clearance from Melbourne goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas, who was mortified to see the ball ricochet back over his head from the Brazilian and into the empty net.

Lim Jong-eun got the second with a cool finish and Mislav Orsic thumped home a third before half-time to put the home side in complete control.

Kim Seung-jun made it 4-0 for Ulsan 10 minutes after the break and Junior bagged his second before a brief fightback from Melbourne.

The visitors scored twice in two minutes through Kenny Athiu and Kosta Barbarouses. But any fleeting hopes of an against-the-odds fightback were snuffed out when Orsic thumped in his second to make it 6-2.

Jeonbuk Motors, the 2016 Champions League winners, made it a great night for South Korean sides when they also clinched qualification with an assured 2-0 win at Japan’s Kashiwa Reysol in Group E.

It was another Brazilian striker, Ricardo Lopes, who got Jeonbuk up and running with a scrambled finish in the 16th minute, and the hugely popular veteran striker Lee Dong-gook sealed the deal in the 77th minute.

The 38-year-old had been on the pitch for just 10 minutes when he sweetly struck a left-foot shot past Kazushige Kirihata to leave Kashiwa’s qualification hopes dangling by a thread.

Kashiwa needed Hong Kong’s Kitchee to defeat the big-spending Tianjin Quanjian in a later match to prevent the Chinese Super League side from clinching the second Group E place in the last 16 alongside Jeonbuk.

SIPG were playing the already eliminated Kawasaki Frontale in a later match, knowing victory would see the Chinese side secure top spot in Group F with a match to spare. 

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