Ulsan beats Al Hilal 1-0 in ACL quarterfinals

BY foxsports • September 19, 2012

South Korean club Ulsan Hyundai defeated Saudi Arabian visitor Al Hilal 1-0 in the first leg of the Asian Champions League quarterfinals, while Saudi club Al Ittihad twice came from behind to beat Guangzhou Evergrande of China 4-2 Wednesday with Naif Hazazi scoring twice.

Uzbek team Bunyodkor came from two goals down to draw 2-2 with 10-man Adelaide of Australia and Saudi club Al Ahli earned a hard-fought 0-0 draw at Sepahan of Iran.

Ulsan's Brazilian striker, Omid Ebrahimi, scored at Ulsan World Cup Stadium in the ninth minute with a low shot from just inside the area that took a deflection off a defender to spin past wrong-footed goalkeeper Abuallah Alsudairi.

The K-League team, which has never progressed past the semifinals, could have won by a greater margin, although the Saudi Arabian side threatened late in the game.

''Al Hilal did not show its best but will be strong at home,'' Ulsan coach Kim Ho-gon said. ''The away game will be tough but we can win away, too.''

Al Hilal rarely threatened Ulsan's goal, but substitute Salman Al Faraj forced a good save from goalkeeper Kim Young-kwang in injury time when through on goal.

''I am not satisfied with the performance,'' said Al Hilal's French coach, Antoine Kombouare. ''It was disappointing that we could not score the equalizer in the second half. As an away game, however, to lose 1-0 is not a bad result. We will prepare as well as we can for the next game.''

Former World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi's first big test since taking control of Guangzhou ended in a resounding defeat.

Gao Lin put Guangzou in front in the 27th minute, only for Al Ittihad's Diego Souza to equalize a minute later. Huang Bowen ensured the Chinese side would go into halftime with the lead when he scored in the 38th.

Al Ittihad's Mohammed Noor leveled for the Saudi side from the penalty spot in the 48th after Hazazi earned a disputed penalty. Hazazi then put the match out of reach when he outjumped the Guangzhou defense to score in the 62nd and added a second in the 89th. Al Ittihad is looking for third title after winning the continental competition in 2004 and 2005.

Lippi was hired in May with the goal of giving the big-spending Super League champion its first continental title since 1989.

In Adelaide, Iain Ramsay and Evan Kostopoulos put Adelaide 2-0 up only to lose defender Nigel Boogard to a red card just before halftime. Bunyodkor scored from the resulting free kick and equalized in the 75th minute from substitute Shavkat Salomov's goal.

Adelaide assistant coach Michael Valkanis said Boogard's sending off ''changed the complexion of the game.''

''We had played extremely good, attacking football and possibly could have had four or five goals,'' Valkanis said. ''It changed our whole game plan.''

Bunyodkor coach Mirdjalal Kasimov agreed that Boogard's red card was a decisive moment.

''The red card was a help for us,'' Kasimov said. ''Of course it is a plus that we scored two goals, but it doesn't mean we can relax in Tashkent.''

In Isfahan, Iran, Al Ahli controlled the pace early but it was Sepahan striker Mohammed Reza Khalatbari who had the best chances. He struck the crossbar once and fired just over the crossbar inside the first 30 minutes. Moharram Navidkia hit a cross that just missed Khalatbari in the 44th.

In the second half, Al Alhi stepped up its attack and missed several easy chances. Taisir al-Jassim received a ball in the area but his point-blank shot was saved by goalkeeper Reza Mohammadi in the 58th, and a free kick by Colombian striker Jairo Fabian was saved by a diving Mohammadi in stoppage time.