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Johnsen double fires Ulsan into Asian Champions League quarters

Doha (AFP) – Super sub Bjorn Johnsen’s fine second-half double fired Ulsan Hyundai into the quarter-finals of the Asian Champions League with a commanding 3-0 win over Melbourne Victory on Sunday.

Beijing Guoan also reached the last-eight phase earlier in the day, although in a much more sedate fashion, as they edged out FC Tokyo 1-0 courtesy of a 59th-minute strike from A Lan.

Ulsan Hyundai have never been beaten by Australian sides in the competition and Sunday’s performance helped the South Korean giants extend that record besides taking their winning streak to six matches, scoring more than one goal on each occasion.

Ulsan won the tournament in 2012 but had not gone past the last-16 phase since, but Sunday’s show of strength helped them break a seven-year drought in style, with coach Kim Do-hoon declaring “we can make history in Qatar”.

“I’d like to thank our players for their great performance tonight. We had a lot of chances but the players were patient in the first half,” said Kim.

“We should have scored more goals but if we keep showing our quality like we did tonight, we can win the competition and make history in Qatar.”

Ulsan could have won by a considerably bigger margin but for the heroics of Melbourne’s Kiwi goalkeeper Max Crocombe who produced at least half a dozen saves, including a brilliant one from Kim In-sung in a one-on-one situation from 10 yards in the first half.

Melbourne, the only side from Australia to make the last 16 this year — Sydney FC and Perth Glory were ousted at the group stage –- fell behind in the 65th minute when Ulsan’s Norwegian international Johnsen steered the ball into the net after it had rebounded off the back of a defender following a shot by Kim In-sung.

Fellow sub Won Du-jae doubled their lead in the 77th minute, rising high for an excellent header to get on the end of a fine free-kick by Yoon bit-Garam.

Melbourne’s exit was confirmed when Johnsen scored his fourth goal in two matches, poking the ball in from point-blank range following a corner with four minutes remaining.

“We are disappointed to be leaving the competition,” said Melbourne Victory coach Steve Kean, who previously managed Blackburn in the English Premier League.

“I think the result as it reads is a flat result, and in the press it will look like we’ve been beaten and beaten well, but I don’t believe that.”

– Lan fires Beijing Guoan through –

Earlier, Beijing Guoan reached the quarter-finals for the first time with Brazilian striker A Lan the hero.

After cruising through the group phase unbeaten, Bruno Genesio’s Beijing Guoan wrote a new chapter in their history, having never previously progressed beyond the last-16 stage in three appearances.

But at the Education City Stadium on Sunday they not only snapped that jinx but also took their unbeaten streak at this year’s event to seven matches.

FC Tokyo, too, had never made it past this stage in two previous appearances but faltered against Chinese opposition yet again — they were beaten to the quarter-final spot by Guangzhou Evergrande in 2012 and Shanghai SIPG in 2016.

On Sunday the game sprang to life in the second half after both teams failed to produce a single shot at goal earlier.

A Lan, previously known as Alan Carvalho, had a great chance to put his side ahead just after resumption but inexplicably shot wide from a Renato Augusto pass.

But he soon made amends, scoring his fourth goal of the competition after a cutback from Augusto who had weaved his way into the box from the right flank.

“Today’s game was very tight, the level shown by both teams was similar,” former Lyon boss Genesio said.

“But I think we deserved the victory because we dominated the game and got a lot of possession.

“We were efficient in both defence and attack, so I congratulate my players.”

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